A few years ago, I signed up to attend the Citizen’s Academy that’s put on by the Colorado Springs Police Department. It’s an 11-week class that gives you, as a citizen, the opportunity to learn about how the Police Department is run, who runs it, and more. Some people had recently asked me about it, so I figured I’d finally share some photos and info about it.
We really got to see the CSPD’s operations inside and out and were given an eye-opening experience about what goes in every single day, 24/7 that most people don’t realize.
On the first night, we got to meeting the Police Chief (Chief Peter Carey), who told us about some of the history of the CSPD, from inception to today. We were then told all the academy for new recruits.
We visited the OEM (Office of Emergency Management) and the dispatch center, which really showed us how many people work behind the scenes and never really get out in the public. I was quite amazed at how complex and chaotic they told us the OEM was during the Waldo Canyon fire. They had to deal with evacuating over 30,000 people in a very short time, for the first time in the history of our city. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in that room!
We got to see the motorcycles that the “motor units” use, and find out about DUI enforcement. Then we heard a presentation from the Community Impact Team (COMMIT) team that deals with gang-related crimes, and I learned about how we actually have a gang presence here in Colorado Springs (I honestly had no idea). The Crime Prevention team described ways to prevent crime in your neighborhood, and setting up Neighborhood Watch programs (I always wondered who put those in place).
One of the highlights was meeting the K9 team and seeing the dogs they use in action. This is something you hope you never have to see in a “real life” scenario! The same could be said for the bomb squad, and that was fascinating as well. I saw little robots on wheels they use to clear rooms for potential bombs, which was enlightening for me since I had always wondered if those were actually used in reality of if they had been invented by Hollywood.
We got to meet the Tactical Enforcement Unit (the “SWAT Team”) and talk about the bizarre and unusual cases they get called out for (like hostage situations) and then we switched gears completely and learned how the School Resource Officers (SROs) work in the schools.
I was glad to hear from the Code Enforcement team since I’d always wondered what the purpose was for the police cars we have in town that say “Code Enforcement” on the sides. Now I know! We learned about what is and isn’t a code violation in our city (their job is tough—it involves things like evicting people from uninhabitable homes, removing graffiti, and things of that nature).
One night involved touring the crime lab, where we all got fingerprinted, and I closed myself in a jail cell just to be able to say I had. We heard from the Victim’s Advocates, who assist people affected by crimes (either themselves or close family members), which is probably something most people don’t know exist but is very important.
We had one session of “intense” subject matter involving unpleasant topics such as homicides, robberies, and crimes against children, followed the next week by property and financial crimes (“white collar crimes”) and things some people don’t think are crimes at all, or at least have no victims.
When it was all done, we had a final session to wrap it all up, and we got to ask any remaining questions. I didn’t really have any questions; I was just thinking about how amazing it is that we live in a country (and a City) that is willing to let us in to see how our government works. They welcome our input. I got to meet the Police Chief. We saw all kinds of things that I’m sure people in many countries never can. That’s amazing to me, and I’m very thankful for it.
If you’re interested in going to a citizen’s academy, you can check out this page on the city government’s website. They run it most years (but not always), and it’s free and open to the public! You just need to sign up to be put on the list, then fill out an application when the time is right and pass a background check. I highly recommend that you try to attend it if you have any interest the inner working of Colorado Springs, or at a minimum, are interested in law enforcement.
One last note: thanks to all the CS Police Department staff and volunteers. We appreciate what you do!