Citizens Academy is a free course offered through the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) that gives Charlotteans the opportunity to learn about how the CMPD operates. According to Maria Williams, program facilitator for Citizens Academy, they have more applicants than space for their programs.
The program is designed to educate citizens about how police officers are recruited and trained as well as what types of stressors they face each day. The practical application classes include taking participants out to the shooting range, on patrol to answer real calls and role playing mock police stops.
duate and litigation paralegal Noelle LeBlanc applied to the program because she was interested in serving on the Citizens Review Board or Civil Service Board. Completing the Citizens Academy was one of the requirements to volunteer on one of these boards.
LeBlanc said, “It was extraordinarily rewarding. I have a better insight into what law enforcement officers do, how they are trained and better insight into what they have to deal with on a daily basis.”
Rebecca Jordan, an elementary school teacher, completed the Citizens Academy in 2014. She had always been intrigued by law enforcement. For her, the experience of seeing behind the scenes of the CMPD was a great opportunity.
Jordan said, “I got to see how the police give back to the communities by going to schools, neighborhoods and volunteering for the Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Application Process: The application process starts with an online application. After a general background check, applicants are sent an approval letter. Applications are accepted year-round. Currently the spring 2016 session is full. New applications are being accepted for the fall 2016 session.
Cost: The program is free to participants.
Class size: About 50 applicants are accepted into the program for each session.
Session schedule: The program is offered twice a year, with a session in the spring (March-June) and the fall (September-December). The graduation ceremony is annually in June after the spring session.
Program requirements: Citizens have two years to complete all Citizens Academy program requirements. This includes 15 classes and an activity (patrol ride-along or community meeting). There is flexibility to accommodate work schedules and family emergencies. Participants may attend the next year’s scheduled classes to make-up for missed sessions.
Photos: Citizens Academy, Noelle LeBlanc, Rebecca Jordan