(Video courtesy of the city of Norfolk)
NORFOLK — Have you ever thought about what it would be like to work for the Norfolk Police Department?
Beginning March 28, you can experience first hand some of the training NPD officers go through during the police academy.
The NPD’s Citizen Police Academy program, which has both fall and spring sessions, aims to show residents the inner workings of the police department, while making Norfolk safe and stronger through community connections.
“The program really bridges the gap between citizens and the police department,” said Officer Jhet Sarmiento, the Citizens Police Academy facilitator since 2009.
Since the academy’s inception in 1996, more than 1,000 people have received free training. The academy infuses traditional learning and practical experiences into the lessons. Classes cover a variety of topics, including criminal and crime scene investigations, bomb squad operations, dispatch communications and gang violence.
Residents will also go on a tour of the jail and an eight-hour ride along.
“The course helps raise awareness and provides citizens with tools to notice and recognize things that may not seem right in their community,” Sarmiento said.
The 13-week course meets every Thursday at the Second Patrol Division from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. until June 21. The program has a cap of 40 citizens, some of who enter the program for school to earn volunteer hours but leave with hands-on knowledge.
Applicants must be Norfolk residents who are 18 years or older. To apply, complete this application.
After graduating from the academy, citizens may join the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association of Norfolk (CPAAAN). Members of CPAAAN are active within their communities by educating and informing their neighbors. They also help with other Citizens Police Academy sessions and community events. CPAAAN also provides scholarships to students who are children of sworn Norfolk Police Department officers and co-sponsors the Crime Prevention Awards Ceremony.
Some academy graduates even choose to become police officers after completing the course.
“I know of three who have gone on to be officers,” Sarmiento said. “They’re now in traffic, patrol, and narcotics.”