Local residents interested in having a better understanding of the Lawrence Police Department will get their chance in October.
Applications for the LPD's seventh Citizens' Academy are now being accepted at the police department. The last day to submit applications is Friday.
Applicants must be Lawrence residents, 18 years of age and older, able to pass a police background check and provide three local references. There is no charge for the program.
The five-week academy begins Oct. 4 and runs through Nov. 1. Classes will meet from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday of each week.
During the academy, participants will learn about the organizational structure and history of the department and discuss current issues in police work and community policing. They also will get an insider's look at how officers make vehicle stops, work on patrol, conduct interviews and investigations, decide when to use deadly force and deal with gangs and juvenile crime.
Police Chief Ron Olin said the academy is designed to give community members a close-up look at "why we do what we do."
He said the academies have proven popular in the past and have left academy graduates so enthusiastic that they have volunteered to help with other LPD programs.
Olin said the citizens' academy resulted in two benefits for the community: citizens who are better educated about police work and better able to police the police department.
"If citizens know police procedures, they have expectations on how we conduct ourselves on the street," he said. "Then we have extra eyes and ears out in the community evaluating whether or not we are living up to their expectations.
"A graduate of the Citizens' Academy is, in my opinion, much more likely to make a complaint against an officer whose conduct is inappropriate. Most likely a complaint from a Citizens' Academy graduate will be based on a correct interpretation of what we were supposed to be doing."
For additional information about Citizens' Academy or to request an application, contact Officer Michael Monroe at 832-7527.