LOMPOC — K-9 and SWAT operations, narcotics investigations, criminal law, and patrol procedures may be standard fare for the men and women of Lompoc’s police force, but rarely does the opportunity arise for civilians to experience these and other core tenets of a law enforcement career firsthand.
The Lompoc Citizens’ Police Academy will provide that opportunity twice this year, with classes scheduled to begin on March 25 and Aug. 5.
Instructors will lead training both in the classroom and in the field over the course of a 13-week program designed to provide perspective on the duties and responsibilities inherent to police work. The curriculum, while significantly less intensive, is based on that completed by police cadets at real training academies.
Local officers will be assigned to teach sessions based on their areas of expertise. Presentation topics range from gangs and firearms to community policing and crime prevention.
Lompoc’s police and fire departments each have long-standing commitments to community involvement, and the Citizens’ Academy is one of many initiatives such as Every 15 Minutes, Junior Police Camp, Youth Fire Camp, and Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) fostering mutual respect and appreciation in the city.
Hands-on experience is as central to the program as the academic presentations, and participants will ride with officers on patrol, view demonstrations of SWAT tactics, and get involved with fingerprint development and firearms training.
Additionally, attendees will experience the driving and force option simulators at the Allan Hancock College Law Enforcement Academy in Santa Maria. Force option simulators require the user to respond correctly to situations police may encounter, such as a traffic stop that results in a violent suspect charging the officer. Users may choose to employ a simulated can of pepper spray if the suspect on screen is unarmed, for instance, but draw their weapon if they find themselves faced with an armed assailant.
Recruits can expect to undergo nearly 800 hours of rigorous training at official police academies like the one at Allan Hancock College. Candidates for the Lompoc Citizens’ Academy, on the other hand, will be pleased to know that classes will only run for three hours each week, between 6 and 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings.
Vacancies may fill quickly due to the 25-student limit for each class, and the police department is encouraging all interested parties to apply soon. Applicants must be at least 14 years of age with no felony arrest history and must not have been arrested for any charge within the last three years.
Applications will be evaluated by police staff, members of the community, and previous academy graduates to ensure attendee suitability. Accepted candidates attend the course for free and receive a diploma from police Chief Timothy Dabney upon completion.
Registration is currently located in the Lompoc Police Department lobby. Resources will be available shortly on the Department website, www.LompocPD.com. Members of the media are also welcome.
Academy coordinator Danny Rios is available for further information at (805) 875-8155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Taylor Gutsche