Residents in Durham, Ont., are getting the chance to learn more about what police do through the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) Citizens’ Police Academy.
The newly launched program welcomed 23 hand-picked applicants from all walks of life, who have been learning about different aspects of policing, including dispatch, forensics, and the tactical squad.
Last year, the force put out a call on their website for residents who were interested in the academy. After getting more responses than anticipated, residents had to go through an application process.
“Honestly, we were overwhelmed by the volume of people who wanted to participate,” said DRPS Staff Sgt. James Lamothe.
Citizens sit in a classroom at DRPS West Division’s Operations and Training Centre, taking notes of various presentations and demonstrations by different units of the force each week.
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After recently retiring from 15 years of military service, David Macdonald joined the Citizens’ Academy so he could learn ways to better support the community.
“I think this is a great opportunity for anybody to come out and see what it takes to be a police officer, but also how citizens of Durham Region, how we can also support law enforcement,” Macdonald said.
Breaking news videographer Colin Williamson also took part in the academy, not to cover it, but to gain insight on the work of the first responders he deals with so often on the job.
“Even after covering news for 25 years, there’s still things I’m learning about,” Williamson said.
“It’s amazing to see all [that’s] behind the scenes and all the work that goes on.”
It’s not just citizens that are getting so much out of the program. Specialty units are also grateful for the chance to engage with residents on a more personal level.
Matthew Hambly, a detective constable with the force’s tactical squad says the unit doesn’t “have a lot of contact with community members that the frontline would, so these types of events really help in establishing that rapport with the public.”
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