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Glendale Police Department's Citizen's Academy opens again

Program acquaints residents with how police work, and why.

April 27, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

The Glendale Police Department's Citizen's Academy is returning this summer after a three-year hiatus prompted by budget constraints.

In addition to participating in mock scenarios with the Special Weapons and Tactics team and learning how to use a radar device to monitor vehicle speeds, local residents will get a chance to learn basic law-enforcement policies during the 12-week academy, which starts June 19.

Glendale Police Sgt. John Gilkerson, who is coordinating the program, said the academy was created to "show people what we do and why we do it."

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Funding for the academy came from the Glendale Police Foundation in an effort to increase understanding of police work and strengthen community partnerships with the Police Department.

The Citizen's Academy was axed in 2009 when officials were forced to cut millions from the city's budget.

Gilkerson approached foundation members about reviving the academy and "it was just sort of like the stars aligned," he said.

The foundation —a nonprofit organization that provides financial support for the Police Department — offered Gilkerson a $14,000 grant to pay for course materials, teaching time and a day at the shooting range, which can be costly, said Nancy Michael, the foundation's vice president.

"Budgets are very tight at the Police Department," she said.

Foundation members hope to keep the academy alive as well long as they can fund it, Michael added.

Michael said she doesn't want to pass up an opportunity to learn more about the Police Department. She's already submitted an application for the academy and hopes to be selected.

Not only did Glendale resident Scott Lowe get to visit areas not normally open to the public when he participated in the academy in 2008, he also developed a greater understanding of police work.

"I think most people have a romantic or action-packed idea of [police work] from TV shows and movies, which we got to see some of, too; but I really enjoyed hearing how the police dig and craft solid investigations that will actually hold up in court. Otherwise, all of the action-sequence stuff is for naught," Lowe said in an email.

As well as expanding his knowledge of law enforcement, Lowe also stays in contact with officers and others he met during the academy.

"Those relationships are important, since residents are always going to be the best eyes and ears about illegal activity in their own neighborhoods," he said.

The weekly academy classes will be held every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Police Department's community room.

To join the academy, applications must be submitted by May 15. Applications are available at the Glendale Police Department or the Glendale Police Foundation's website at http://www.glendalepolicefoundation.org.

For more information, contact Sgt. John Gilkerson at jgilkerson@ci.glendale.ca.us

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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