Cambridge Cops Establish Citizen Patrol Academy

Local Department Seeks to Improve Community Relations, Educate Residents About Police Work

The Cambridge Police Department recently announced the launching of a new "Citizen Police Academy" program for Cambridge residents.

The program aims to educate Cambridge residents about the issues facing police officers.

It will also attempt to help residents and police officers better understand one another.

The department launched the program "so that the citizens can gain a better understanding of their police department," according to Lieutenant Steven Williams, who will direct the program.

"We know that we need [the residents of Cambridge] in order to be successful, and this is just another way of trying to bring the community and the department together," he said.


The Citizen Police Academy is part of the department's ongoing push for community-oriented policing of the city, Williams said.

Classroom instruction during the program will cover issues like criminal law, constitutional issues, domestic violence and drug abuse.

While most of the instruction will be in lecture format, Williams noted that other types of instruction will also be important to the academy's curriculum.

"As we're approaching people to instruct, we've established that it's important to have role plays or demonstrations, video presentations, etc," Williams said. "We have a particular video we will show on how officer should not do a vehicle stop."

The new academy will also allow participants to ride or walk with an officer who is on patrol in the city.

Williams said the department has set up a 10-week curriculum. Participant will gather at the police station one night per week, for three-hours sessions each time.

For this first year of the program's existence, there are only 18 spaces due to the "physical limitations" of the Police department, Williams said.

Applications have been available at the Cambridge Police Department for several weeks, and "there have been a lot of people interested in this kind of program,' said Detective Frank Pasquarello, a spokesperson for the department.

At present, the department is still unsure how it will decide on the final 18 participants.

The department may decide to choose one member from each of Cambridge's districts.

Or it may choose to reserve particular spaces in the program for youth and elderly citizens or for members of the city leadership council.

"The police department's transition teams is presently making a decision on a criteria selection process," Williams said.

In the face in the widespread interest already shown in this year's program, Williams expects the academy to expand in years to come.

"Other departments have run [citizen police academies], and the request for participation explodes after the first one. The applications increase exponentially," said Williams. "It's growing trend, a wave, so to speak."