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August 6, 2014

Citizens Police Academy seeks a few good ‘recruits’

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

The graduates of the previous Troy Citizens Police Academy came from all walks of life and ages — from those seeking careers in law enforcement to those in private security to retirees.

The city started offering the Citizens Police Academy in its present form in 2012, and many of those graduates have gone on to volunteer for the Troy Citizens on Patrol, volunteers who patrol the city on their own time, in their own vehicles, and report anything suspicious to Troy police. Graduation from the Citizens Police Academy is a prerequisite to participating in the program, said Troy Police Lt. Tom Gordon. 

The eight-week program will begin Sept. 9 and meet for eight consecutive Tuesday evenings through Oct. 28.

The curriculum includes K-9 demonstrations and presentations on gathering evidence, special task forces, the Fire Department, the crisis negotiation team, the traffic safety unit, the road patrol, the chain of command, criminal investigations, emergency response and the hazardous materials team.

The program also includes a tour of the lockup, demonstrations and instruction on the firing range, defensive tactics and a TASER demonstration. Graduates also may sit in and observe the 911 dispatch center in action or do a police ride-along.

“In talking with the people who have gone through, we spend the right amount of time in each area,” Gordon said.

Graduates have said they like the hands-on demonstrations the best — the defensive tactics and the firing range, Gordon said.

“What surprises people the most is how difficult it is to get through the screening process to be a police officer in Troy,” Gordon said. “We want to attract and retain some of the best ones out there. It’s a process you don’t want to rush.”

Gordon said that participants also are amazed at the amount of technology used in the police cars, in taking reports and through the extensive use of databases.

“It’s really a wired world,” he said.

“It’s a fascinating chance to go behind the scenes,” said Council member Ellen Hodorek, who attended the program during the last session. “I signed up as much as a resident as a council member.”

She said the program allowed her to see police doing day-to-day work and share their sense of professionalism.

“You walk out with a much broader, in-depth perspective of their challenges and how they face them,” Hodorek said.

“My favorite part was the ride-along. It was very eye-opening,” she said.

She said the crisis negotiation team portion of the training at the Police Training Center was especially poignant for her.

“One of the guys got pulled to a Clawson incident,” she said. Police found a 44-year-old man dead in his home in Clawson March 5 after an overnight standoff with police. According to reports, police were called there on a report of domestic violence. Police approached the front door and the man was seen carrying a shotgun, according to reports. He reportedly fired shots at police, and officers returned fire, striking the man. His family fled the home. The Oakland County SWAT team responded, set up a perimeter, and entered the home, finding the man dead.

“It went from textbook to being very real,” Hodorek said. “The police are very visible and not completely understood. It (Citizens Police Academy) was fascinating and makes you appreciate where you live.”

Space is limited. Eligible participants must successfully complete a background check and sign a release-of-all-claims waiver. There is no cost to attend the program. 

Applications and waivers are available at Troy Police Headquarters at 500 W. Big Beaver, online at www.cityoftroypolice.com, and on the Troy police Facebook page. Forms may be mailed, faxed or dropped off to the Troy police on or before Aug. 22.

Presentations are scheduled at the Troy Police Department Emergency Operations Center at 500 W. Big Beaver, the Troy Fire and Police Training Center at 4850 John R, and Fire Station 3 at 2400 W. Big Beaver. The program will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. eight consecutive Tuesdays from Sept. 9 to Oct. 28. Call (248) 524-3454 or (248) 524-3443 for additional information.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.