The Meridian Township Police Department was only able to accept this year 16 participants in its citizens’ academy, because of social distancing guidelines for classrooms, said Andrew McCready, director of the academy in its 22nd year.
Even though it’s a smaller group, the academy is still able to give community members hands-on training and insight on the day-to-day workings of Meridian Township’s Police Department.
This 10-week program started Sept. 2 and will go through Nov. 4, 2021. Participants will meet every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and hear from officers presenting on various topics.
“The Citizens’ Academy is the best way to reach the community and answer their questions and really get residents involved and interested in police work,” said Richard Grillo, Meridian Township’s Police Captain and Services Division Commander.
Participants will be getting hands-on training on specialty topics including Criminal investigations, narcotics and several other items listed below. At the end of the academy the community members participating will have the chance to do a ride-along with a police officer. This allows participants to get one-on-one time where they are able to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the police workings.
“Rather than just getting their knowledge from what they see on TV they get training from an officer that specializes In each of these areas,” Grillo said.
The program started in 1999 as a way for the police department to better serve the community.
“The connection between Citizens and the law enforcement is really important in understanding how we do our jobs and understanding what they expect from us,” said Ken Plaga, Meridian Township Police Chief.
The Citizens academy is not the only community-based activity the Meridian Township Police Department does, they will also have a Halloween open house Oct. 30 as well as a Youth Academy for high school-aged students starting in February.
“It’s really the beginning of a relationship, by meeting us people feel more comfortable coming to us if they have any questions or ideas,” McCready said.
Connecting with the community is very important to Meridian Township’s police department.
“It’s really ingrained in the culture of our department and what we’ve been doing in the community of Meridian Township, this is just an extension of us forming relationships with the community and helping them learn about us and also learning about them as well,” McCready said.