A Follow Up to the Citizen's police academy
Submitted by Jillian Harris --
A few months ago I was browsing Facebook when I stumbled upon a flyer posted
by the Fullerton Police Department advertising something called a Citizen’s Police
Academy. The flyer promised the “opportunity to see first hand the functions of your
police department.” It also promoted open communication between the community and
law enforcement, something I believe has become increasingly important as, often, we
only hear about negative interactions from the perspective of the frustrated public. After
mulling the idea around, I decided to give it a shot. Secretly, I was really interested in the
Once I signed up, I asked my mom and sister if they wanted to join, and they both
signed up, too. For the last ten weeks we have looked forward to our Wednesday nights.
All three of us have been long time supporters of the Fullerton Police Department.
Through this class, we found innumerable reasons why we love the Fullerton Police
Department even more than we already did. In taking this course, we wanted to see if we
could find out more information about the department. Now that this course has finished,
I believe we have found so much more.
From the first class where we went on an in depth tour of the facilities and a
breakdown of the positions from the captains, to each specialized class like SWAT,
narcotics, gang, and more, we left each Wednesday night feeling inspired and informed.
Not only were our presenters knowledgeable, but you could tell that each one truly loves
what they are doing AND the ability to share that love with this class. I don't think there
is anything more you could ask of someone whose job it is to protect the community.
While each week was memorable, all three of us had different standout memories
of this class. My sister, Heather, really enjoyed the K9 presentation. She was impressed
watching the dog in action and then seeing him switch back to being calm instantly,
where he was no longer a threat. She also loved the entire SWAT experience with
Lieutenant Chocek and seeing her former DARE officer, Sergeant Bogart speak about his
work on the Directed Enforcement Team.
My mom was very impressed with the fact that each class was taught by the
actual officers who work in their respective fields. She liked getting to know the different
personnel that serve our city.
Before the class started, I was most looking forward to the ride along experience.
I don’t think you can get a real understanding of something unless you truly live it.
Officer Nguyen was very accommodating and informative. The last fifteen minutes of the
ride along he received a call from the dispatchers to be the first responder on scene to a
house with a seizing, not breathing baby. My heart sunk. Officer Nguyen was calm as he
received information while driving with sirens blaring to the house and preparing to
enter. I cannot imagine having to deal with calls like this and, sometimes, worse, on a
Another favorite memory was the Crime Scene Investigation class with Forensic
Specialist Ramirez. It was interesting seeing the process the investigators go through to
document a crime scene. I really enjoyed walking through the photos at the end of the
presentation and working as a class to piece together what happened, even though my
sister almost passed out from the discussion and sight of the blood.
One person that truly impressed me was Chief Hughes. When he came in during
our second class to introduce himself, he took the time to personally talk to and learn a
little bit about each of us. He asked us what we do, why we signed up for this class, and
genuinely listened to us as we answered. This small gesture of appreciation for us shows
how great of a leader he must be for his department. This was also evident in how the
presenters each week spoke so highly of him.
The flyer I stumbled across on Facebook ended by saying that the “major goal of
the Citizen’s Police Academy is to increase understanding between citizens and their
police department, and to build a strong and long lasting relationship.” Now that our class
is over, I wholeheartedly believe we have accomplished this goal. So thank you to
Juanita, Chief Hughes, and to all the captains, managers, officers, dispatchers, and other
department staff members who have truly made this course a memorable experience and
for all the work they do in Fullerton for the community on a daily basis.