Bridging the gap between the community and the South Pasadena Police Department is the purpose of a 10-week program designed to expose participants to the many facets of law enforcement.
The Citizens Police Academy, which meets weekly for 2 ½ hours on Wednesday nights in the Emergency Operations Center at the local fire station, is presented by the South Pasadena Police Department to open communication between the community and the police department.
The first of the classes, taught by officers Tyler Borrello and Gilbert Carrillo, began on April 10 with general information and a tour of the South Pasadena Police Department, will cover a specific topic each week, including dispatcher/communications, patrol, forensics, use of force, traffic enforcement, crime analysis, K9 operations, the School Resource Officer, and DUI arrests. Enrolled students are also eligible to participate in a ride-along with a patrol officer at any time during the 10 weeks.
The Citizens’ Police Academy is an informative hands-on program designed to provide community members a better understanding of how the local police department operates.
“It lets our residents get a closer look at what we as officers do,” explained Borrello.
Graduates of the course will have an increased “understanding of the police department, and how the partnership between the community and the police can help reduce crime,” explained Richard Lee, a crime prevention officer for the SPPD.
Students must be at least 18 years old, reside in South Pasadena and have no felony or misdemeanor convictions.
“I hope people will walk away with an understanding of what the police department does on a day-to-day basis,” explained Carrillo. “There are a lot of working parts to running a police department and the public generally doesn’t understand or know exactly what we do. We’re trying to bridge the gap. Many departments are going the community-policing route, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We want people to openly come to us if they have questions or concerns. We want them to feel like we work as a team.”
Joe Ortiz, the city’s new permanent police chief who started working in town earlier this month, says Citizens Police Academy participants become a member of the SPPD family, “one of us,” he stressed, before adding, “They are a stakeholder in the community to help us do our job.”
SPPD Captain Brian Solinsky, who served as interim police chief prior to the hiring of Ortiz, stressed that a police department’s strength is measured by its partnerships in the community.
“This class is all about developing that partnership with each of you,” he told participants enrolled in the course. “You will have a better understanding of what we’re doing and how we do it.”