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NIU Police Department launches Citizens Police Academy pilot program

March 24, 2016

cpa-2Joe Lovelace wondered what it was like to be a police officer.

Now he knows.

Lovelace, director of Students’ Legal Assistance at NIU, was one of more than a dozen members selected to be part of the Citizens Police Academy pilot program, which kicked off Jan. 27 at the NIU Police Department.

“The program is very hands-on which allows the participants to get a taste of what being a police officer is like on all levels,” Lovelace said. “From the emotions when approaching a vehicle to the exhaustion an officer experiences when involved in a physical altercation, the program offers real insight into the psyche of being a police officer.”

The goal of the academy is to provide citizens with a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a police officer and the integral role officers play in keeping the campus and community safe.

Taught by members of the NIU Police Department, the 11-week course meets each Wednesday.

“We designed a pilot program so we can gather information, get feedback and really fine-tune the program before we do a full launch of the Citizens Police Academy,” said NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips. “We want to be transparent with our operations; we want our community to fully understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

cpa-1Lovelace said the pilot program does just that, adding that the creation of the academy “speaks to the department’s interest in developing a hand-in-hand relationship with the community.”

“It allows the community to feel better about the job the department does because the community knows how that job is being done,” Lovelace said. “The academy provides knowledge based on reality rather than sensationalism.”

Look for more information regarding the official launch of the Citizens Police Academy and how to register for a session in the fall.

by Jane Donahue