East Lansing's Citizen's Police Academy Accepting Applications

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 10:50 am
Somer Sodeman

Each year the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD), hosts its annual Citizens’ Police Academy (CPA). The academy lasts 11 weeks, meeting every Tuesday 6-8p.m. in the ELPD Emergency Operation Center for a total of 20 hours.

During the course, Academy students are exposed to real life issues in and out of the classroom. Every week the academy covers different areas of the police department. Throughout the course, students will learn more about the police department, discussing situations such as neighborhood watches, criminal investigations, active shooters and more. Students will also participate in a K9 Unit demonstration and ride-alongs with ELPD officers

One participant, Fatima Kobeissi, attended the last CPA in 2018. Kobeissi was new to East Lansing and thought the program would be a good way to get a feel for the culture of law enforcement in the city. He also attended the program because he wanted to balance his perspective in light of the media focus on police shootings.

“[The program] gives the public a snapshot into what their local police department is working towards, aside from fighting crime, and introduced us to a lot of information that is both interesting and educational.” Kobeissi said.

Kobeissi recalled a memorable moment during the program when he did a ride-along with an officer, and halfway through, they received a call. The officer had to do a wellness check on an individual who was threatening to commit suicide. According to Kobeissi, the officer took his time to ensure that the individual was able to remove themselves from the situation and stay with a family member.

“It was definitely not something I expected local police to spend time dealing with, but it was great to watch, nonetheless,” Kobeissi said. “The officer de-escalated very strategically. It was impressive and compassionate policing.”

He learned that oftentimes officers don’t fully understand what the situation is when receiving a call.

“I don’t think we’re always sympathetic to the fact that they rely a great deal on what is reported when they’re called,” Kobeissi said. “Speaking with these officers and listening to them talk about the unpredictability of their encounters was unsettling.”

Kobeissi stated times when there would be heated discussions with academy participants due to the different viewpoints in the classroom. Some had a less favorable view of the police and were vocal about it. However, participating in CPA challenged those views.

“They didn’t claim to be perfect or to have always policed perfectly, but they came across as kind and compassionate public servants doing a very difficult and dangerous job, even to those who enrolled with a less favorable opinion of their organization as a whole,” Kobeissi said. “I think some people came there looking for admissions of being somewhat complicit in police brutality around the country, but they didn’t find that. The officers teaching our classes showed us a side of policing that was focused on being effective instead of punishing. I think East Lansing has a fairly progressive police department in that regard.”

CPA is free, but limited to 15-20 participants. East Lansing citizens 18 or older can apply here Applications are due by Friday, August 23.



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