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Calexico citizens' academy would give police another set of eyes

May 17, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — In line with the idea of community-oriented policing, this city's Police Department has established a citizens' academy with two goals.

First, police want to show residents what police officers do and the things that guide them in carrying out the law and protecting people.

Second, the department wants to start volunteer programs such as neighborhood watch and a citizens' patrol program in which residents will provide more sets of eyes for police.

Calexico police Sgt. Jesus Serrano, a six-year department veteran who will head the citizens' academy, said the goal is to have a citizens' patrol in place by the start of 2002.

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He said first the department wants to introduce people to the work done by police officers through the citizens' academy.

"It's a better opportunity for citizens to know what the Police Department is all about," Serrano said.

The academy will start June 16 and will be a 13-week course. The classes will be from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday.

Each class will be taught at police headquarters and police officers will run the classes. As part of the academy, residents will have to complete 10 hours of ride-along time.

The first 13-week session will be limited to 20 students. However, Serrano said the idea is to increase the class size to 35 in following sessions in the fall.

The classes are open to those age 21 and older.

Serrano said people can sign up for the class on a first-come-first-served basis. People can contact the Police Department to obtain an application and a brochure on the program.

The Police Department will select those will participate

Throughout the course, which was the brainchild of Police Chief Tommy Tunson, residents will learn about police roles in the community, traffic enforcement, gang culture and juvenile crimes, drug recognition, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, among other topics.

"The ultimate goal is for citizens to know how the Police Department works different situations," Serrano said. "It helps residents to understand the process of the law."

Serrano said the program will give officers a chance to spend more individual time with residents. He said it is difficult while on patrol to visit with people.

He said the program will give officers three hours to talk to residents and strengthen the relationship between officers and the community.

Serrano added, "It's important for the community and the Police Department to work as one."

He said as soon as the citizens' academy gets going, residents will be able to help police through volunteer programs.

Along with neighborhood watch and volunteer patrol programs, residents who finish the academy could help police man the department's substation.

Those interested in the program can call the department at 768-2140.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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