If you are a Marana resident or work or own a business in the town and have an interest in how policing gets done within the town limits, then you might consider signing up for the Marana Police Department’s (MPD) Citizens Police Academy.
The 12-week academy won’t make you an instant cop, but it will give you a better understanding of what it takes to work in law enforcement in Marana. The Academy is designed to give participants an up-close and personal look at law enforcement operations as practiced within the town.
Who is eligible? If you are at least 18 years old, don’t have a prior felony arrest and live, work or do business in Marana, you are on the way to getting in. You also can’t have any misdemeanor arrests within one year of your application and you must complete an application form at www.marana.com/cpa.
Marana Police Department Sergeant Steven Johnson, who’s in charge of the Citizens Police Academy, as well as several other MPD areas such as emergency management, homeland security and SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics)/bomb squad, among others, said, “We
expect participants to have an interest in the police department and what we do, have an open mind, and consider how they can help us as well as how we can help them.”
The next MPD Citizens Police Academy runs from Sept. 3 through Nov.19, meeting Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Northwest Fire District Training Center at 5125 W. Camino De Fuego in Marana (a quarter mile west of Interstate 10 on the north side of Ina Road). The program is free.
Marana police officer Kevin Litten, who is the Explorer advisor and newly-assigned to work with the academy, pointed out that historically more women than men have been involved in the MPA academy, likely because women are typically more involved in volunteer organizations.
“In terms of those people who apply for the Academy, we have only turned down one individual who applied in the last three years of classes we’ve run,” Litten said.
Johnson noted that the MPD began running the Academy in 2003, but suspended it in 2009 for three years when the economy went downhill.
“We restarted the academy in 2012 and had 20 people complete the course,” he said. “We filled our slots (25) in 2013 and hope to do so again this year with the fall course.”
Jim Kaletka, vice president of the National Citizen Police academy Association and a volunteer lecturer and administrator with the MPD program, noted that all types of individuals get involved in the Academy, from college students to business owners to retired homeowners to everyday working folks.
“People take the class and then tell their family, friends and neighbors about it,” Kaletka said. “Before long, people start talking and we get folks in who are referrals from others who have gone through the academy.”
Topics planned for the fall academy include an introduction to the command staff, hiring and training academy information, patrol duties, motor units, volunteers in police service, court proceedings, defensive tactics, arrest and control, firearms, criminal investigations, crime scene unit, crime analysis, and the town’s K-9 (dog) unit.
Johnson pointed out that many people who enroll in the Academy are surprised at how complex police work has become.
“Instead of only arresting someone and taking them to jail, they are learning about what it takes to be a law enforcement officer today,” Johnson said. “”We give them a breath of what it means to be a Marana police officer.”
Johnson said the academy stresses “a tell-me, show-me, put-your-hands-on-it approach to learning.
“People get a better understanding when they are put in situations, which are safe situations that show them how difficult it is to make fast decisions in the field,” he said.
Role playing takes front and center in some of the classes, Litten noted, where academy participants are put in situations similar to those faced by officers on the street or on patrol.
Sgt. Johnson added that all of the Marana police officers who participate in the academy have volunteered for the duty.
“They want to be a part of it and show people what they do and how they do it,” Johnson said. All aspects of the Marana Police Department are covered during the academy, he noted, “but entrance into the academy is on a first-come, first-served basis (as long as one meets the basic requirements).”