The Huntsville Police Department is now accepting registration for its Citizen's Academy. That's where everyday people have a chance to learn more about the police department and the training the officers receive.
WAAY 31 learned more about the program and how it can bridge the gap between officers and the community.
Many of the people we talked to told us they think programs such as the Citizen's Academy is necessary given the current tensions between law enforcement and the public.
Lieutenant Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department said that's one of the goals of the academy. He said once citizens finish the academy they then go back to their communities and teach others what they learned and that in turn helps the public understand what officers do.
"It actually develops a lot of communication for some of the communities and neighborhoods in Huntsville," said Johnson.
That's exactly what citizens we talked to told us they want to see happen.
"Find out what that disconnect is and lets all fix it," said Thomas Simpson who thinks the academy is a good idea.
Johnson said 25 people can enroll in the academy. There they will learn about the different divisions within the department and how each of them handle situations with the public. This includes learning about how the crisis team responds to incidents with people with disabilities and mental illness.
"The crisis intervention team comes into play when there's actually time to deal with someone unstable," said Johnson.
Both Simpson and Laura Edwards think the academy will help the public better understand officers and what they're up against everyday. And although the department is working toward bridging the gap Edwards said there's still more they can do. "Maybe just go out and be a little bit friendlier and let people know they are there for them and not against them."
At the end of the program each participant will graduate and then have an opportunity to do a ride along with a police officer.
The Citizens Academy is nine weeks long and meets once a week. You can find more information on the Huntsville Police Department website.
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