The La Verne Police Department is sponsoring a 10-week educational program that offers community members unique insight into life on the police force.
For the 22nd Citizen’s Academy class, approximately 22 community members, including some students, attend a weekly Wednesday night class designed to enhance community awareness of the various police department functions.
“I was walking down the street and an officer stopped me and told me about the class, so I decided why not sign up since I’m looking into getting into law enforcement someday,” sophomore criminology major Benjamin Alvarez said.
Over the 10-week course, participants learn about various functions such as traffic stops, drug identification, building searches, K-9 (police dogs) “Maverick,” Dispatch, Foothill Special Enforcement Team- SWAT Team and much more.
“I wanted to take this class to learn more about who is policing our city, statistics, crime and hot-spots that you can learn from being a civilian,” resident of La Verne Greg Winfield said.
“You have to look at things from the inside out,” he said.
On a recent Wednesday, Police Chief Scott Pickwith spoke to the class about how the department works. The participants learned about the philosophy of the department and about how many arrests are made annually. They also learned how the department works in concert with the city.
“This is a community outreach class, we believe that the more the community knows about the police department, what we do and why we do it, then the more support we’ll gain through the community,” Pickwith said.
Not only do the participants learn about the functions of the community, but they also get to participate in fun activities like going on ride-alongs, learning how to do a building search and go to the firing range to test out their shooting skills.
“The class is going to get an opportunity to do a building search and find someone hiding in the room,” Pickwith said.“The purpose for that is to give the students a sense of what the officers feel when they go in and do that.”
The class also gets the behind-the-scenes action of the other divisions that work with the department like the La Verne Fire Department and also the FSET-SWAT.
The class learned about what FSET is designed to do, the special requirements to be a part of the division and the equipment that members have to wear.
FSET brought their famous “bearcat” vehicle used for SWAT tactical responses for the participants to sit in and feel what it is like to be in the vehicle with a hands on perspective.
The participants in this year’s class will graduate on June 12 at a special graduation dinner after completing the class. The department encourages any members of the community – including ULV students to sign up for the next class.
“I would love to encourage more students to attend, plus if you have some desire to get involved in government, local government or law enforcement it’s a good way to get an understanding of it,” Pickwith said.
Candice Nuñez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.