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Police Academy Engages Residents of West Jordan

Jan 28, 2016 01:34PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Mylinda LeGrande | mylinda@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan - Residents from the community sat at long tables in a classroom at the West Jordan Justice Center on Jan. 14. Each had been given a thick black binder of information they’d be going over in the 13-week-long training from 6 - 9 p.m. each week. The comprehensive and interactive instruction would cover a different area of the police and justice system each week. 

Just as the class was beginning, an individual walked in and demanded to speak to Barbara Tatangelo, crime prevention specialist. He said loudly that he wanted to know why he hadn’t been accepted to the program. She responded saying that he was a two-time felon and asked him to step out into the hall.  Class members seemed a little surprise at the altercation.  Quickly, attendees realized that what had just happened wasn’t real when they were asked by the officer conducting to write down a brief description of the man.  He explained that this was one example of what the class would experience, firsthand, in the next few months. 

The West Jordan Police Department, according to its website, wants residents to understand how officers protect and serve West Jordan residents, visitors and business owners. The department believes residents who understand police roles can be more supportive of police activities when more information is made available, which, in turn, provides greater peace, safety and quality of life.  

Roger Davies recently observed firsthand an incident that occurred on his street with the police department and SWAT team.  When he saw an article in the paper about the class, it prompted him to apply.

“I just want to learn the interworking of the police department and find out about volunteer work,” he said.  

One way to accomplish this is through The Citizen Police Academy.  Ten years running, it has provided a way through for citizens to receive a working knowledge of the police department.  It is designed to foster a closer relationship between the police and the community. 

The Citizen Police Academy classes are very popular and only 24 people are accepted for each session.  They are offered twice a year in January and August.  There are no fees or charges to attend. Those who are accepted are expected to complete the full-course and 98 percent actually do finish.  Qualifications are that applications are 18 years old or older and must be able to pass a criminal background check. 

Classes are held in the West Jordan Justice Center Community Room at 8040 South Redwood Road.  Included are four field trips to the Valley Emergency Communications Center, 9-1-1 Dispatching Center, Salt Lake County Jail, a firearms range and SWAT Team scenario. 

Those participating in the academy come from all walks of life. 

“I just wanted to get involved in the community. I’m fairly new to West Jordan and have lived here for one year after moving here from Idaho. I hope to get out of the class, the functions of the police department,” Tempi Harris said.

Those in class will get an overview of the West Jordan Police Department organization, how it is structured, how officers are recruited and trained and be introduced to police divisions such as homicide, traffic and crime scene investigations, K-9 Units, SWAT, firearms, gangs and narcotics.  

Accepted applicants will be able to go one on one with officers and experience handcuffing, personal defensive tactics, crime scenes and go to a working crime lab.  They will be engaged with simulated “Sim-Gun” scenarios with actors acting as criminals and practice firearms safety with a video simulator, as well as go on a four-hour ride along with a West Jordan police officer.

“I watch the news media where you are given one picture and that is why I’m here. I’ve lived here 45 years and want to know and to have a better understanding [of] police officers,” Roland Watley said.

Instructors include police staff and officers as well as from non-WJPD divisions and agencies. On the last day of class, members will participate in a graduation ceremony and receive a certificate of completion. Then they can participate in the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS). This enables them to act as a volunteer in many police department divisions as the need arises. 

Another chance to participate will be in August.  For those interested, visit the police department at 8040 South Redwood Road, seven days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. for an application and background check information.

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