The academy is a 10-week course that, one night a week, immerses Union City residents in all things police work, Assistant Chief Lee Brown said.
Participants get to experience a police ride along, a SWAT demonstration and to learn about search and seizure, patrol, K9, the laws of arrest and more.
“It allows them to meet the officers and it allows the officers the opportunity to meet and interact with them,” Brown said. “It fosters open lines of communication between citizens and officers.”
The police department has conducted three academies so far.
Thaddeus Taylor Jr. decided to join the academy after becoming concerned about potential crime activity in his neighborhood.
He said he had quite the experience going through the academy and that he learned a lot.
“I happen to be the oldest member of the group — I’m 87,” Taylor said.
And he remains active in the alumni group.
This group of academy graduates who have chosen to remain active with the police department will volunteer in the records room, assist in any way possible with large city events and most recently, had a cookout for the officers.
Taylor said volunteers were on hand for both shift changes — 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. — to offer officers food, a smile and support.
He also said a small clothing drive took place simultaneously.
The group also has plans to begin raising money to buy more bulletproof vests for the department.
“We don’t have arresting authority and things of that nature,” Taylor said. “We’re just there to help and assist the police whenever we can.”
Brown said the department takes applications for the Citizen Police Academy continuously throughout the year until enough have been received to conduct a class — about 12 to 16.
Applicants must be 18 years or older, have no felony convictions and no misdemeanor convictions within three years of applying. The academy is free.
Those interested can obtain an application at the police department, 5060 Union St. in Union City or download an application online at the city’s website, www.unioncityga.org.
Information: Contact training coordinator Billy Shoemaker, (770) 515-7828 or bshoemaker @unioncity ga.org.