By Andrea Cordle
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a police officer? Do you question decisions officers make? If the answer is yes, maybe the Grove City Police Academy is for you.
“This is a way to let community members understand what the police do and why,” said Tom Durflinger, the police community relations supervisor for the Grove City Division of Police. “It’s a chance to interact with us in a non-enforcement way.”
The citizens police academy started in 2011. The division of police is currently enrolling for the 12th session of the academy that will begin Sept. 17.
Durflinger said there was a lot of community interest and participation when the academy was first introduced but since then involvement has fluctuated.
According to the police department, the purpose of the citizens police academy is to provide educational information regarding the division of police, its mission and activities. Residents of the city of Grove City or Jackson Township can sign up to gain a better understanding of police work while officers can gather input about community concerns.
“It gives them a different perception,” said Durflinger. “It’s eye opening.”
Durflinger said participants get to tour the police station as well as the radio room. They see and handle some police equipment and get to drive in a drunk driving simulator. Participants also get an overview in laws, crime prevention and the criminal justice system.
Grove City resident and former educator in the South-Western City Schools District Jeri Kerns participated in a Grove City Citizens Police Academy and enjoyed it so much, she decided to become a member of the police academy alumni association, where she has been president for the last three terms.
“I felt an appreciation for what they go through,” said Kerns.
Once someone graduates from the academy, they can become a member of the alumni association if they choose to do so. According to Kerns, the alumni group has 41 active members.
“We are looking for viable volunteers,” she said.
Kerns said the primary goal of the alumni association is to support the Grove City Division of Police. They also participate in community watch programs.
“We provide an extra trained eye,” said Kerns.
The alumni association meets once a month at various locations throughout the city, like the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum, Scioto Grove Metro Park and Mount Carmel Grove City.
“We like to show everyone what our community has to offer,” said Kerns.
As president of the alumni association, Kerns will speak to participants in the academy about membership opportunities.
According to the police department, enrollment in the citizens police academy is not designed to further employment opportunities within the criminal justice profession. It is designed to improve community and police partnerships.
The Grove City Citizens Police Academy will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Grove City Safety Complex, 3360 Park St. Classes begin Sept. 17 and the academy will run for about six weeks.
There is no cost. Applicants must be a Grove City or Jackson Township resident and be at least 18 years old. Applications can be obtained by visiting www.grovecityohio.gov or picked up at the Safety Complex.
For more information, visit the Grove City website or call the division of police at 614-277-1742.