Sunday, December 9, 2012

Citizens Police Academies - what?

A citizens' police academy is not a brand-new idea in Illinois. In 2006 the Illinois Citizens Police Academy Association, Incorporated was formed as a not-for-profit association. A person in Wheeling is the current Agent-of-Record. If you are interested, you can read information about this state organization at

Member departments are not specifically listed anywhere on the website of the State Association, but information about certain programs can be viewed under Links on the menu bar. No programs are listed for McHenry, Woodstock, or McHenry County. An application for a program in Crystal Lake can be viewed.

An application and waiver for a Ride Along program (not an academy) at the Woodstock Police Department can be viewed.

This information might be of interest to citizens who are considering local academies. "Graduates interested in continuing the partnership that develops in a Citizens Police Academy continue their involvement by joining various law enforcement-related volunteer programs such as

    Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association
    Citizens on Patrol
    Community Emergency Response Team
    Neighborhood Watch
    Volunteers in Police Service"

Neighborhood Watch programs have started and died in Woodstock, or failed to ever get off the ground, for lack of citizen "friendliness". Back in about 2003 I attempted to organize one in the 300-400 block of South Madison Street, just down the hill from the Groundhog Day house. There was strong interest, but "rules" at the Woodstock Police Department kept it from ever starting.

The main rule in the way was the high percentage of residents who had to get on board. As I recall, 75% of the residents had to "join". And so it fizzled. At the time there were only three active Neighborhood Watch groups in the entire City of Woodstock. The liaison at Woodstock Police Department was very helpful and interested, but it was the "rule" that killed the effort.

The "Citizens On Patrol" is a terrific program for spotting crime, crime potential, deterring graffiti, etc. While these volunteers only observe and report, they can provide an extremely important additional set of eyes and ears in a community.

Got a problem with drugs, loud parties, stop sign runners, speeders in your neighborhood? Volunteers can begin to take back our streets and neighborhoods and keep more serious crimes from getting a foothold. Police departments must learn to work with citizens. Too often an attitude at a department exists that sends a message loudly and clearly that "We know best. Just let us handle it." That creates even greater polarization in a community, not partnership.

1 comment:

Ray said...

Gus Writes: "Volunteers can begin to take back our streets and neighborhoods and keep more serious crimes from getting a foothold."

I hate sloppy writing. When did we lose our streets, should I call the newspaper? How exactly would volunteers keep more serious crimes from getting a foothold? If serious crimes don't have a foothold--have we lost our streets? Aren't the most serious crimes infrequent and pretty random???

I am sure these statements make perfect sense to you (cuz I am psychic and you wouldn't admit it if they didn't).