When Lansing resident Patty Farhat Reed heard about the Citizens Police Academy Program, she jumped at the opportunity to become involved.
She was a member of her neighborhood watch and thought she knew a lot about the Lansing Police Department already, but this could only improve the quality of her community involvement.
Five years later she couldnt be happier to have taken part in the inaugural program.
It was probably the best thing I ever did for myself, Reed said. It gave me a new respect for law enforcement and opened my eyes to the great risks they take each day.
Plus it made me a better citizen because I dont take them for granted like I did before.
Reed said she cant recommend the program enough to Lansing citizens.
The next class runs Oct. 3 through Dec. 5 on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Lansings South Precinct, 3400 South Cedar St. Applications for the fall class can be picked up until Monday Oct. 2 at that address.
The intensive 10-week seminar to increase communication and understanding between the citizens of Lansing and Lansing police has been held biannually in the spring and fall for the past five years. The program is available to anyone at least 18 years of age who lives or works in the city of Lansing, said Lansing police Lt. Ray Hall.
We thought it would help inform and educate citizens of what the Lansing Police Department does and why, he said. We know there are a lot of myths out there about what police officers do.
During its first year of existence, officers were shocked to find some of the things that citizens took as fact about the department and police officers in general. This forum allowed them to address residents misconceptions.
We dont make the laws, we work with what the politicians give us, Hall said. Often younger people look at us in uniform and think that were these bad guys.
It sounds simple, but when youre able to sit down and discuss these things it really helps, Hall said.
The class covers a different aspect of police work each week including criminal investigation techniques, drunken driving procedures, juvenile law, crime prevention and family violence through the use of lectures, tours, videos and demonstrations.
Officer Michelle Burkhardt, the neighborhood watch officer for Lansings south precinct, is in charge of organizing and running the academy. It is her duty to set up the syllabus, topics and instructors for the class.
The instructor and myself work together to increase community rapport, she said. It allows us to be more informed of the concerns in the community, so we can gain a better understanding of what citizens want from us.