The University Police Department’s inaugural class of the 13-week Citizen’s Police Academy graduated Aug. 25 with a second group on the horizon for the spring semester.
UPD officials said the academy is intended to educate faculty and students about the different services UPD offers and to inform the community about the “unique policing” that is practiced at the university.
Rolando Belmares, UPD sergeant and Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA) coordinator, said the program has been six years in the making due to funding issues the department has faced.
“It takes a decent amount of money to put on an academy,” Belmares said. “We were able to get a grant this year to fund two academies, and hopefully we will be able to sustain it for many years to come.”
Belmares said he hopes students and faculty will utilize this unique resource.
“We want to educate about the services we provide that help out on daily activities,” Belmares said.
He said some students are unaware that UPD offers services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We give Bobcat Bobbie rides and have safety escorts,” Belmares said. “UPD provides many services that the community does not know about, and we want to bridge that gap (with the academy).”
The academy will meet for classes every Tuesday during the 13 weeks of the program.
As of Aug. 26 there were 12 spots available for CPA courses, Belmares said.
He said the department has received an “overwhelming response” of more than 150 applications for the fall session.
Bethany Wilson, CPA student and criminal justice senior, said the academy will give her an advantage in her field of study.
“I do want to go into the criminal justice system,” Wilson said. “I want to understand the law enforcement end and get an overall understanding of the experience.“
Michelle Hamilton, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts, is enrolled in the course, and said she hopes to gain an understanding of local policing and the different ways it can be beneficial to the community.
Hamilton said she is enrolled in the academy to learn what resources are available through UPD and whether they are utilized to the fullest extent.