With less than a month to go before the Citizen’s Police and Public Safety Academy begins its 11th year, all members of the University and Elm City community can register for the free civilian training program.
The program, which will be staffed entirely by YPD officers, offers interactive experiences with the Special Weapons and Tactics team, the department’s bomb detection dog, Whitney, and her handler. According to YPD Lieutenant Von Narcisse, the Citizen’s Police and Public Safety Academy operates two sessions a year, with six weekly meetings per session.
“Often our students will come into the academy with a particular impression as to how we do business and how our officers are,” Narcisse said. “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.”
As part of the University’s community outreach initiative, the training program aims to increase civilian awareness of police and security operations and the responsibilities YPD officers face on the daily basis, University spokesman Tom Conroy said in an email.
The academy touches on topics ranging from patrol operation and investigative services to emergency preparedness and the department’s state-of-the-art communication technologies, Conroy explained. He added that the training sessions will incorporate both classroom interactions and hands-on activities.
Narcisse said the department promotes the program through as many avenues within Yale’s networks as it can, such as word of mouth recommendations from previous attendees and publicity through YaleNews.
He added that the academy has been successful not only in introducing YPD operations to the public, but also establishing long-lasting professional friendships and connections among participants.
Since its inception, the program has received positive reviews from its attendees, Narcisse said, all of whom complete a comprehensive survey after the last week of training so that the department can evaluate and strengthen the curriculum.
Patricia Melton ’83, a 2015 participant, said she appreciated the “eye-opening” experiences offered by the program, which allowed her to comprehend YPD’s responsibilities and the breadth of its authority. Melton added that she befriended undergraduate and graduate students as well as University faculty and staff, which expanded her network on campus.
University spokeswoman Karen Peart, who participated in the same 2015 session as Melton, said in an email that the mix of perspectives and backgrounds the academy inspires lively discussions about the complex situations YPD officers face in the line of duty.
“Some of the scenarios and exercises put us in the shoes of officers facing often stressful situations that can require keen judgment and a good assessment of the situation,” Peart said. “The experience gave me even more of an appreciation and respect for the officers on our force.”
Peart also highlighted the way in which the program encourages YPD officers to learn more about the unique needs and concerns of the communities they serve.
The Citizen’s Police and Public Safety Academy’s first series was in 2007.