SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Ready to answer the (simulated) call for help with sirens blaring and lights flashing? Maybe test out your firearm knowledge or shooting skills? The San Antonio Police Department gives San Antonians the chance to try it all out in Citizen Police Academy.
SAPD’s Citizen Police Academy takes place over 12 weeks on Tuesday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the San Antonio Police Training Academy. The final session of the year starts September 28.
“The Citizen Police Academy is aimed at bridging the information gap between citizens and the police department,” Pope said. “Taxpayers pay taxes for a service but a lot of times they just don’t know what the police department actually does in the day-to-day operations.”
Pope has been serving as a San Antonio police officer for 21 of the 24 total years of his service. He has been serving as a project coordinator for the last five years.
“What it is not, is running and push-ups and all the things that are generally associated with our police academy,” CPA Program Coordinator Joel Pope said.
Participants will explore the inner workings of the police department through training and demonstrations with the Criminal Investigations Unit, K-9 Unit, SWAT, Internet Crimes, Helicopter Unit, Gang Unit, learn about identity theft and do firearm training on the range and using the Firearms Training Simulator.
CPA brings participants to the Police Training Academy on the southside of the city that sits on 140 acres. The facility includes a mile-long driving course, firearm facilities, a make-believe city called The Village populated with homes in addition to classrooms, a gym and running track typically used by cadets in the academy.
“I think it’s an important opportunity in particular in the environment we’re in [today] in the United States,” Pope said. “I’ve been a policeman for 24 years so I think we’re in a great place, we’re finally getting that really good dialogue and it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity to get in and get those questions answered.”
Graduates of the program will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to participate in unique volunteer opportunities through the CPA Alumni Association.
People who apply but are not able to participate due to over-enrollment will be automatically enrolled for the next CPA session. The next session will be in early 2022.
Anyone 18 years of age and older can apply and all applicants undergo a background check before approval. Pope said that teenagers as young as 14 can participate in the Safety Corps at any substation in the city for free and that Safety Corps members occasionally have the chance to participate in CPA activities.
You can apply for the Citizen Police Academy at sanantonio.gov/SAPD/Citizen-Participation-Programs/CPA or by calling 210-207-6212.