Undergraduate interest in the Yale Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy has sunk to unusually low levels this fall.
The academy was designed by the YPD to educate members of the Yale and New Haven communities about police operations during one six-week session per semester. Although this year’s session has been well attended by Yale graduate students and New Haven residents, not one of its 30 members is an undergraduate. But, according to YPD Lieutenant Von Narcisse, the program could help dispel undergraduates’ misconceptions about the police department.
“Often our students will come into the academy with a particular impression as to how we do business and who our officers are,” Narcisse said in an email. “By the time our students leave, they have a much clearer perspective as to what we are all about and what our function is all about.”
The lack of Yale College students enrolled in the academy is not typical, Narcisse said. He added that while their numbers fluctuate each year, at least some undergraduates are typically represented in each session. Narcisse attributed this year’s low turnout to the academy’s meeting time on Tuesday evenings, which he said conflicts with students’ schedules. Narcisse added that the program’s spring classes are more popular — officers usually have to make a waiting list for people interested in attending.
Yet, of the 14 Yale College students interviewed, 10 said that they did not know that the YPD was holding the program. Two students — who had learned about the academy through a campus-wide email sent by the masters’ offices — said they felt they did not know enough about the academy to feel compelled to sign up. The YPD relies on several other avenues of communication to promote the academy as well, including word of mouth, Narcisse said.
Narcisse said that the academy covers a variety of topics, including patrol operations and investigative services. YPD officers introduce attendees to all aspects of policing, including dogs from the K-9 bomb squad and the inner workings of the FBI.
Of all the students interviewed, only one said that they would consider signing up for the academy. Most students said that they would not consider applying to the program due to lack of time and interest.
“I’ve just got no other time to do things other than classes and my extracurriculars,” said Arrice Bryant ’15.
According to Wen Jiang ’16, more students would consider applying to the academy if the meetings, which last for two and a half hours, were shorter.
While the Citizens Police Academy is open to Yale community members and residents of the greater New Haven area, the program is largely composed of Yale staff members, and most other participants are alumni or graduate students.
Although undergraduates seemed uninterested in the academy, attendees said they would recommend the program to Yale students.
“I think that anyone can benefit from attending,” said Patricia Marino, program attendee and lead security officer at the Yale Center for British Art. “It makes you more aware of your surroundings and more aware of what the YPD offers.”
The Yale Police Department has held the Citizens Police Academy at their headquarters at 101 Ashmun St. every spring and fall for the past eight years.