University Place residents, business owners and office workers have a chance to learn more about law enforcement, the issues facing police officers and the communities they serve. The University Place Police Department, which is staffed by members of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department through a contract with the city, will be holding a seven-afternoon Community Academy to address various aspects of modern police practices and policies. The class will provide overviews of patrol procedures, policies about the use of force, drug laws and investigation procedures as well as basic tips to avoid being a victim of crime and the changing landscape of police work brought by technology and changes in law.
The course is part of the department’s outreach effort to quell misconceptions about police officers, particularly with the backdrop of the national debate surrounding high-profile police shootings of African Americans that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and street protests.
People attending previous academy courses ranged from retirees and elected officials to high school students and business owners. It is designed for not only community leaders and future leaders, but also for people who simply want to know more about law enforcement issues to broaden their perspectives beyond headlines and sound bites. But it’s not a seven-week commercial, either. The academy is designed to be a discussion.
“There is so much out there about the different perceptions of law enforcement,” Chief Mike Blair said, noting that this course is designed to provide information in a straightforward, street-cop perspective. “This is my message.”
The concept of offering the community academy started decades ago and has changed and evolved over the years as laws and perceptions changed, but the purpose of the academies remains the same. The academy operates on the belief that the more citizens know about the department, the better relations will be between citizens and law enforcement. The academy hopes to increase understanding between the department and members of the community it serves.
Three particularly interesting presentations given during the biannual course are: Sheriff Paul Pastor’s historical perspective about law enforcement changes, “Nine Flashpoints in American Policing,” Deputy Kris Nordstrom’s talk “Legalized Marijuana and its Impact on Public Safety,” and “Personal Gun Ownership in America,” presented by deputies Dan Hacker and Lincoln Hales.
The UP academy is a localized version of the Sheriff’s Community Academy that are held around Pierce County and often are held at night. The upcoming academy in UP is held in the afternoon to allow people to attend an academy without disrupting their home lives and schedules.
Oct. 3: Introduction to policing in University Place & Course overview
Oct. 10: Protecting your property
Oct. 17: Patrol Procedures & Use of Force
Oct. 24: Nine Flashpoints in American Policing
Oct. 31: Legalized marijuana and its impact on public safety
Nov. 7: SS911 Communications Officer /K-9 Demo
Nov. 14: Personal gun ownership in America
This next Community Police Academy will meet from 1-4 p.m. on Mondays from Oct. 3 to Nov. 14 at the Police Headquarters, 3609 Market Pl. W. The academy fills up so pre-registration is required. Pre-registration forms are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the class is filled. Applicants must be at least 16 years old. To sign up for the class, call (253) 798-3141.