For 19 times the police departments of Horsham and Hatboro, Pennsylvania have presented a seminar-type forum know as the Citizens Police Academy. Having heard several rave reviews of the program, its organization, and presentation, I decided to register and take a look at what our local law enforcement types do and how they do it. There are local CPAs in surrounding communities as well, such as Abington, Cheltenham, as well as both regionally and nationally.
This past Wednesday night was our first session. And although the first session was by necessity a bit dry and full of background information and program objective, several interesting factoids were presented that would make the under-educated (police service-wise) go, “Hmmmm …”
If subsequent sessions appear to be nearly as interesting as I think they might, I intend to share some of my experiences and lessons-learned with you. I will not promise to do so each week; but I will not let anything of value out.
By way of full disclosure I reveal the following. I have several former and current officers in my family, including one who retired from a command position in a fairly large police department out west. Currently, I have one extended family member serving as a patrol officer (last time I checked) in Wilmington, Delaware.
The objective of the Citizens Police Academy (CPA) are fairly obvious.
- Improved community relations
- Improved public safety
- Crime prevention through the elimination of Opportunities to commit crime
Of course, the primary goal is an outreach to its citizens as a way of fostering familiarity with police roles and techniques, an understanding of what police can and cannot do, as well as a forum for citizens to learn how to prevent the most common criminal acts and how local police will react and handle those situations. The underlying theme is to promote a tighter relationship between the community and the police, and to encourage greater participation by everyday citizens in community.
Personally, I find it to be an excellent way to show support for local law enforcement as well as taking an interest in the important role they play in making our community a safer, more attractive place to live.
My class has roughly 20-25 attendees on the first night, coming from both Horsham and Hatboro. For those not familiar with the two communities, they are located very closely though they do not physically border each other. The township of Upper Moreland separates the two by a thin piece of land, known by some as “the dog leg”. However the two communities share a common school district, known appropriately enough as the Hatboro-Horsham School District.
I live in Horsham. But in a strange quirk of U.S. Postal Service zip-coding, my residence holds a Hatboro zip code. (Not sure how that fits the narrative here, but there ya go!)
Our first class was mostly a familiarization session, with some random facts and an opportunity to check out the routine equipment carried and used by today’s officers. Most of this was interesting in a hands-on way, being able to feel the heft of the expandable baton or noticing that their sidearm ammunition used hollow-point bullets or imagining what it feels to have 50,000 volts of taser hitting your muscles from an effective range of 25 feet.
Future classes will include patrol functions, a session on District Courts, use of force, crime scene and homicide investigations (CSI), the FBI, terrorism, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), K-9 programs, and drug awareness.
Some other random tidbits picked up in our first session:
- Although Pennsylvania is an open carry” state, as soon as you enter a vehicle with your weapon, it is considered to be “concealed” for the purposes of requiring a Concealed Carry permit.
- The average police shooting last 3-6 seconds from a distance of 3-6 meters where 3-6 rounds are fired.
- Police officers “walk through” every school in the Hatboro-Horsham SD at least once a day.
- Hatboro will be celebrating its 300th birthday in 2015!
More to follow …