Citizens Police Academy

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The Naperville Police Department has a unique program designed to introduce citizens to the different aspects of the department.

Equipment training, K-9 apprehension, and narcotics detection are only some of what residents learn about at Citizens Police Academy.

“It’s an opportunity for the citizens of this community to understand what the police in their town do. It kind of opens their eyes. A lot of people think they know what we do and I think you can say that for any occupation out there, but until you walk a mile in their shoes you really don’t understand it. And what we’ve noticed is people are so overwhelmed with the amount of information and what goes on with policing, it offers them a whole new perspective,” explained Naperville Police Department Deputy Chief Jason Arres.

The Naperville Police Department program came to be in the early 90s as a way to increase transparency and interest in how the police work in our community.

“I find it fascinating. One of them [that I really enjoyed] was we did a lot of case studies of how they would get a robbery report, and the police would go to the scene and collect evidence and information to finally figure out who did it. And then track them down and arrest them and that was really quite fascinating to see that,” said Charles Sherwood, a current participant in the academy.

Now in its 34th session, the nine-week program meets once a week with 25 Naperville citizens who get hands-on lessons with professionals in their specialty fields, like Peter Konow who works with the K-9 Unit.

“The questions that come up from it are always interesting because people have these ideas in their head of how police dogs seem on TV or they hear about them, [and how] they’re always biting somebody. But in reality they actually can be very friendly dogs. And it’s just taking these dogs from what they’re born with, harnessing it, and then teaching them how to use it on command which is the most interesting part to me,” said Konow.

While the academy is currently only held once a year in the winter, there’s hope to add a spring session in the future.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.