Tuesday night I graduated from the Citizen’s Police Academy. Turns out it was a big deal.
After firing official police weapons, riding a shift with a patrol cop, visiting the emergency management and 911 centers, I guess it really was a big deal. We also learned about street drugs, gangs, domestic violence, SWAT, forensics, Internet crimes, organized crimes, and the judicial system among other things from the law enforcement point of view. Yep. It was a big deal.
The previous week we’d each been given an “official” CPA golf shirt and most wore theirs to graduation. I didn’t. We’d been warned the shirts were big and we might need to shrink them, but that’s a little hard to do when one waits until the last minute to try it on. At least I wasn’t the only one in street clothes. There were a handful of others.
The graduation ceremony started with a procession led by a guy playing the bagpipes. This bag piper led a full color guard (flags, rifles) that came in only for the Pledge of Allegiance. Formal. Snazzy. Short. Those guys had to put on all those clothes for such a brief appearance. Kind of like our dance performances.
After their departure, the Chief of Police introduced the other dignitaries in attendance. (He’d made several prescient commanders and division heads attend.) Then he addressed the class and our guests. Hubby was still in Japan so I was perhaps the only graduate without my own personal photographer and cheering section.
Four classmates gave mini-speeches, but had been given a two-minute time limit, which meant most of them kept their remarks to less than five. They shared why they’d taken the class and what the experience had meant to them. I was asked if I wanted to speak, but declined. I’d taken the class to more accurately portray law enforcement in my fiction. While I’m sure the brass appreciated my intentions, I didn’t think it prudent to broadcast my motives when others had much more noble reasons such as becoming better prosecutors, neighborhood watch leaders, and volunteer crisis response chaplains. A better writer? I kept that one to myself.
We each received a certificate and an official photographer made a photo they’ll send to us. After we were dismissed, we were reassembled for a group photo—not an easy task with that many folks. This was followed with punch and the largest cake I’ve ever seen. I would have taken a picture, but my camera was in Japan.
In all seriousness, if you ever have an opportunity to take a class such as this, it’s worth your time, even if you don’t have a reason other than becoming more aware about your community. It was an amazing experience–one I hope to repeat with the TBI and FBI. The information I garnered for my writing will be useful, but what I learned about my community is invaluable.
Have a safe holiday weekend.