One of the biggest issues that police officers deal with concerning community relations is the perception of how their jobs are portrayed in Hollywood and, yes, the media.
High-speed chases, drawn weapons and confessions obtained within an hour or two of an arrest are exceptions rather than the norms.
Which is the major reason why the West Hartford Police Department is hosting an eight-session Citizen’s Police Academy in the fall: to address the misconceptions and show the community what officers really do. Some of the subjects that will be discussed are: community oriented policing programs, accident investigation, crime scene processing and K-9.
The sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6 - 9 p.m. on Sept. 25 from 6 - 9 p.m. at Legrand Wiremold in Elmwood.
“I wanted to offer residents the opportunity to get a real-life look at what happens behind the scenes at the police department,” West Hartford Chief of Police Tracey Gove said in an e-mail. “Often people’s perspectives are based on what they’ve seen on TV, and that’s just not real police work. I believe that once they’ve sat through our program, they’ll have a much better appreciation for what we do on a day to day basis.”
But the Citizen’s Police Academy also gives the department an opportunity to showcase its talented officers to the community, as well as provides police a chance to meet residents in a more relaxed setting.
“I want the community to get to know them and see their talents,” Gove said. “I also think there are great benefits with the program for my staff to get to know some of our residents, as well. It’s definitely a win-win on both sides.”
The program is being held in Elmwood, away from the police department, to encourage residents from that area of town to take part, according to Gove.
“I wanted to remove it from the confines of the PD, which could be intimidating to some, and put it right out in the community,” Gove said. “Fortunately, we were able to partner with Legrand Wiremold who have a state-of-the-art training facility and a strong desire to work with their community. I believe that this will allow many residents, who may otherwise be unable or hesitant to attend, the chance to learn about our great agency and to feel as though we are all partners in West Hartford.”
The classes will be held on the following dates: Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.
Those interested in the Citizen’s Police Academy may obtain applications from the West Hartford Police Department at 103 Raymond Rd. Applications can also be printed out online at www.west-hartford.com under “Behind the Badge.”Please contact the Community Relations Division at 860-523-2013 with any questions.