For the last three weeks Lathrop residents have been learning the ins-and-outs of the department that is tasked with keeping them safe.
And that involves a lot more than just sitting through a class talking about procedures and policies and the way that issues that arise on the street get approached.
For more than a decade, Lathrop Police Services has been hosting its Citizen’s Academy for anybody 21-years-of-age or older that wants to a better understanding of law enforcement within the community they call home.
Now three weeks into the nine-week section, participants are gearing up to take a tour of the San Joaquin County Jail – operated by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, which provides contracted police services to Lathrop – and tackle a lot of hands-on training programs including a Virtua training simulator designed to test the reaction times of officers and gauge the necessary use of force in a variety of different ways.
“There’s the classroom part of it but there’s also the interactive part of it and I think both of those are a good representation of what it is that we do here,” said Lathrop Police Services Deputy Steven Baxter. “By using interactive simulators we give those who participate the chance to see the same sorts of scenarios that the police would face and test their reactions as they interact with the screen.
“It’s something that people enjoy, and it’s gives residents who are interested the opportunity to develop a better understanding about what we do in this community and how much we care about it.”
Twice during the spring and summer the department offers a similar program for 5th through 8th grade students – although that program has much more paramilitary feel with pushups and homework and the sense that the students are actually working towards achieving something as if they were a part of a real academy.
And in a sense, the adult academy can give off the same vibe minus the pushups and the homework. According to Baxter, last year when the class was offered in March one of the men who took it would go on to become a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy while another, who was retired, became a volunteer.
“It’s a great program for people who are thinking about going into law enforcement and even those who want to learn more so that they can volunteer – we had a guy from each of those groups in our last class that are working for us today,” Baxter said. “I think that shows that the outreach from programs like this do in fact work.”
While the Citizens’ Academy is currently closed for enrollment until next year, in late April and early May the window for the Junior Police Academy will be opening for students who wish to get involved and participate in one of the two two-week summer programs. For more information visit www.ci.lathrop.ca.us/lpd.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.