By Liam Dacko
After a successful run last semester, the Stonehill College Police Department will once again offer a behind-the-scenes look at campus law enforcement through its Citizen Police Academy.
The program will run Sept. 30 to Nov. 4. The six-week program, held every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will focus on a variety of topics. Discussions will include the origins of policing, investigative procedure, criminal and constitutional law, and careers in policing, among many others.
Campus Police Chief Peter Carnes, who is running the program, said the academy represents a great opportunity for officers to address many of the questions students have about law enforcement.
“This is an opportunity for us to sit with people and tell them what we do, how we do it, why we do it,” he said. “There’s probably been no other time in our history that people have had more questions about what the police do, so it’s a really good time to consider this.”
Carnes saw success with other citizen academies when he was chief in Yarmouth, Mass.
“While I was in Yarmouth, I ran probably 10 citizen academies in my 13 years of being Chief. I saw the success of the program as far as bringing the community members closer to the police department in a way in which the residents gained a better understanding of the day-to-day work of the police department,” he said. Carnes said students get a lot out of the Citizen Police Academy, particularly in regard to understanding the reality of law enforcement.
“They understand that we’re here to protect them, we’re here to serve them. At the same time, they get a better knowledge of our operations. They get to see it’s not like on television.”
Carnes said the Citizen Police Academy is an excellent opportunity for people planning to pursue careers in law enforcement to learn more about the opportunities that await them after graduation.
“We bring in people from state police, we bring in people from the FBI, we bring in people from the DEA, to talk about careers,” Carnes said. “Many of our students in the class are considering criminal justice careers of some sort and it’s sort of an opportunity for real-time discussion with people who are very knowledgeable about those careers.”
Additionally, students interested in law enforcement can network with those working in law enforcement who visit the class.
Whether you plan to pursue a career in law enforcement or not, the class is open to students of all majors, Carnes said.
“By the title ‘Citizen Academy,’ that should be looked upon as all-inclusive. It should be looked upon that this is for everybody. [In the first session,] we had a Heinz 57 variety of majors. Everybody’s welcome,” he said.
The goal of the Stonehill College Police Department is to engage in community policing and the class helps to accomplish that goal, Carnes said.
“It’s been my endeavor…to get this department as close as possible to the people we serve,” he said. “We have an open door policy in this department. We’re accessible. We want to be looked upon as a resource in our Stonehill College community. This is just another way of doing that.”