Citizen Police Academy – a chance to help

One summer day, a couple of years ago, Sun Citian Fred Dryden received a call from the Huntley Police Department. He was asked to assist police officers in a search for a missing elderly lady in the community.

He also was asked to recruit some friends to assist him in the activity. He rounded up three friends and reported for “duty.”

Dryden and his friends were, and still are, members of the police department’s Citizen Police Academy (CPA).

“The woman had been missing for nearly two days, and they asked for our help in the search,” Dryden recalled. “We were told it was part of our training as members of the academy, but also to help police locate this woman. We volunteers didn’t find her, but regular officers located her deceased in a cornfield. It was a very interesting and educational experience for us as volunteers.”

Huntley Police’s 2018 CPA class is now being formed. The department is accepting applications from Huntley residents who are at least 18 years of age for this year’s activities. The Academy is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the police department’s headquarters building, 10911 Main Street, next to the village hall. Sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 p.m., through May 23.

The Academy is an 11-week educational program designed to give participants a working knowledge of the Huntley Police De4partment. A series of classes and discussions provide an overview of the various areas of law enforcement. Dryden is current president of the academy’s 92-member alumni association, which consists of all gradates of the 11-week training program who wish to remain active. Nearly half of its members are Sun City residents.

“I joined the group in 2008, shortly after the academy program started,” Dryden said. “I wanted to find out about the ins and outs of the police department. In the last decade, I have found it to be a fascinating and enriching experience. We don’t join in on live police investigations very often, but we have become well-informed citizens that support law enforcement activities and assist in a variety of ways.”

Academy members assist in the training of police officers by serving as bystanders or victims in exercises, Dryden said, and assist police personnel at civic events, parades, July 4 fireworks, Bike Huntley, and recycling activities.

The 11-week CPA training program is free of charge and open to individuals who live or work in the Village of Huntley. Applicants are subject to a background check, and advance registration is required. Applications are available at the Police Department or can be downloaded from the Village of Huntley Police Department website, www.huntley.il.us/depts/police/programs-services/academy.asp. Officer Megan Racila coordinates all of the academy’s activities.

“The CPA assists us in a variety of important ways and is a core of well-informed citizens in the village who are knowledgeable about the conditions we work in, the laws we enforce, and the way we protect residents and property,” she said.

The literature available at the department says: “The objective of the CPA is not to train an individual to be a ‘Reserve Police Officer,’ but to produce informed citizens. The citizens and police officers meet each other face to face in a neutral, friendly setting and each becomes a person to the other. In the past, citizens have simply seen a uniform, now they have an understanding about that person behind the badge.”

The 218 Academy session for new recruits includes interactive two-hour weekly sessions in overview of patrol, telecommunications (911), traffic law, criminal law, use of force, evidence, juvenile, investigations, gang awareness, problem solving, and crime prevention. The Alumni Association gives graduates the opportunity for continued education in the field of law enforcement, and allows them to have an interactive association with the police department.

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