NORTH SMITHFIELD – A popular program that gives residents a chance to get an up-close look at the training and daily operations of the North Smithfield Police Department, from processing evidence and traffic stops, to firearms and use of force, is now accepting applications, with plans to resume this fall.
The Citizens Police Academy will be held Tuesday evenings September 13 to December 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at police headquarters at 575 Smithfield Road.
The department first launched the academy in 2018, graduating 15 residents from the nine week course, the first civilians to receive the hands-on training from town law enforcement. The program provides officers a chance to showcase operations, while building relationships with members of the community they’re sworn to protect.
Former School Committee member Fran Johannis was among the first crop of graduates and described the program as, “enlightening,” in an interview that followed.
“It was interesting to see a glimpse of the daily regimen of what goes on behind closed doors of the police academy and to understand the training and obstacles cadets need to overcome in order to pass,” Johannis was quoted as saying. “It is an excellent program that I hope will continue.”
Johannis was not alone in the positive review. After completing the course in 2019, resident Cheryl DeChristofaro wrote a letter published in the Valley Breeze noting, “I encourage everyone who qualifies to take these classes when offered. You will never look at the police department the same way again.”
“The citizens police academy is run by the police department and closely follows the actual hands-on training that police undergo,” noted a write-up on the program.
It is one of two department-run programs in town that brings together officers and civilians with the goal of fostering relationships with the community. Launched in 2019, the North Smithfield Police Explorer Youth Program teaches police techniques to a younger crowd ages 14-20.
But like so many things, the academy went on hiatus through the pandemic.
When the program resumes later this year, the curriculum will include the topics of patrol operations; use of force; prosecution; DUI and drug offenses; accident investigation; crime scene and evidence processing; basic firearms; traffic stops and radar; domestic violence/sexual assault; emergency vehicle operations and community relations, according to materials.
Participants must be age 18 or older and must have no criminal history other than minor traffic violations, with background checks required. Insructors are sworn members of the department and students must sign a liability waiver.
Class size is limited and preference will be given to North Smithfield residents. An application can be found on the North Smithfield Police Department Facebook page.
“Join now and experience what our officers go through day to day,” the department noted in a post. “We can’t wait to bring back this program and educate our residents on our jobs.”