The University of Connecticut police department’s 16th annual Citizen Police Academy is open for enrollment, Lt. Mark Bouthillier said.
“The purpose of the academy is to create a better understanding and communication between the police department and the community through education,” Bouthillier said. “The [Citizen Police Academy] is designed to allow an open line of communication and a forum for participants to ask questions relating to law enforcement.”
During the academy, students are taught by members of the UConn Police Department who specialize in specific areas of law enforcement, Bouthillier said. Some of the topics that will be discussed are patrol division functions, criminal investigations, use of force, community policing and computer crimes. The program typically has hands-on practical skills days and ride alongs, but, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they will not take place this year.
“The courses are designed to move quickly and be informative as well as interesting,” Bouthillier said.
The program lasts six weeks and meets in-person Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. starting Oct. 6, Bouthillier said. Usually, the program runs for 11 weeks with longer meeting times, but it has been altered to adhere to proper COVID-19 guidelines.
“Due to the current pandemic, the UConn police department’s interest in the health and safety of our community is our [utmost] priority,” Bouthillier said. “The UConn police department will continuously evaluate the current situation and evaluate the ability to provide this program safely to our community.”
Any UConn student, staff, faculty or Mansfield resident over the age of 18 can apply for the academy using the online application on the UCPD website. After applying, a background screening will be required.
Typically, the program has around 20 to 30 applicants, but class sizes will be decreased in order to have in-person meetings for this fall, Bouthillier said. Classes will meet on the Storrs campus in a location that is approved for in-person classes but that has not yet been determined.
Bouthillier said that the Citizen Police Academy is unique because it “shows our community that we strive to have transparency and a better understanding and communication between the police department and the community.” Even though the program will be shorter this year, the academy still strives to cover a wide variety of topics and connect to the community.
“The [Citizen Police Academy] is formatted in a way that creates an open forum for questions and dialogue that allows participants to ask those hard questions and to share personal experiences with law enforcement that may have been positive or negative,” Bouthillier said. “[It] also allows our community members to share their experiences in the program with others, helping to create a broader understanding of our commitment to the community who we serve.”