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A Follow Up to the Citizen's police academy


Submitted by Jillian Harris --

Good evening,

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

ride along!

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

daily basis.

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.

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