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I recently completed the Citizens’ Police Academy program. It is an eight-week, once-a-week, two-hour session that seeks to create a better connection between the Westerly Police Department and us, the citizens of Westerly.

Each session focuses on various aspects of the department’s responsibilities, ranging from an active-shooter situation, to DUI enforcement, to arrest procedures, to juvenile crimes, and a host of other areas. The presenters, who are all members of the department, discuss the procedures, their training, their responsibilities, and the issues pertinent to the topic being discussed.

Besides learning quite a bit about the wide scope and many responsibilities of the department, I was impressed by how well-trained the officers are, the courage they have to deal with many dangerous situations, and their commitment to making our community a safe place for all. It certainly deepened my respect for police officers.

I also learned a number of helpful things for my own safety and well-being. For example, what to do if I am in an active-shooter situation, how to act if I am stopped for speeding, the ins and outs of various fraud scams and other related issues.

My understanding is that the course is focused on helping us understand the tasks and responsibilities of the police department, establish a deeper connection to the community and alerting us to how we can work with police officers to make Westerly a safer place for all. From my perspective, I would say they certainly succeeded.

Oh, they have a short graduation ceremony at the end of the last class and you receive a certificate of completion. I was thinking of keeping that with me while driving so that if I was stopped I could sort of inadvertently have it appear while I was getting out my license. Then I thought the officer might say, “Sir, you completed this course and you still are breaking the traffic laws. Maybe I should double the fine.”

I would highly recommend you take this course if you can. Call the police department at (401) 596-2022 for more info.

Frank Thacker

Westerly

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