You’re a police officer and you’ve just been called to a disturbance in your community.
When you arrive, all sorts of bad things have already hit the fan. There are six people present and four distinct arguments going on. And the hostility level is off the charts.
It’s up to you to take control of the situation.
“Everybody is giving you a hard time. They are all in your face,” said Scott Brosseau, who graduated Monday from Flossmoor’s Citizen Police Academy. “You learn what police officers go through all the time, what it is like to deal with extremely difficult situations.”
Brosseau was asked about the most instructive class during the 12-week training session, during which Flossmoor residents and members of the business community learn everything they ever wanted to know about local law enforcement. He immediately responded that it was the evening of role-playing when students got to be officers thrown into a whirlpool of rampaging human emotions and bad behavior. It took place in the police department garage.
“Law enforcement personnel and Citizens Police Academy alumni took the roles of the people we were dealing with,” he said. “It got very confrontational.”
Brosseau said his performance in controlling the tense situation was “fair to poor.” But he added that the CPA training program is worthwhile for any Flossmoor resident.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Flossmoor for offering this experience,” he said. “I can’t begin to tell you how positive it was for me. You hear a lot of negative comments about police in this country but everyone who went through this program knows what it is like to be in law enforcement.”
Brosseau said he was very impressed by Flossmoor Officers Mark Cagle and David Levy, who were lead instructors for the course. Officers from the Illinois State Police also participated in the program, as well as law enforcement personnel from Homewood, Olympia Fields and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
“It was a three-hour course, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday nights, but we always stayed past the end of the class,” he said. “The night that the Illinois State Police sergeant was there we stayed until 11, asking her questions. That’s how interested we were.”
Citizen Police Academy topics included narcotics, traffic accidents, DUI arrests, crime prevention, identity theft, firearms safety, interviews and interrogations, crime scenes, use of force and police equipment. Students visited Stateville Correctional Center and got to fire a few rounds – while closely supervised — at Flossmoor’s gun range. They had the opportunity to ride along with an officer on patrol.
Friends and family were on hand as the 19 graduates were honored at this week’s village board meeting. This is the fourth Citizens Police Academy class and it was clear that participants were happy and excited about having taken part in the program. Smiles and applause greeted the graduates as they received their certificates.
Besides Brosseau, this year’s graduates are Charles Sullivan, Barbara Dunn, the Rev. Sarah Martin, Pamela Nixon, Christopher Schulp, Joseph Schulp, Suzanne Hallam, Matthew Bergeron, Mary Doyle, Genora Reed-Hopkins, Joseph Klupchak, David Duncan, William Gillespie, Anthony Hill, Seth Wilson, Juana Villa, Gerald Fortain and George Reaves.
Police Chief Michael Pulec explained that the program’s curriculum and teaching methods are similar to the traditional police academy, and designed to give citizens an overview of village police operations. The academy, he said, was started to promote positive police-community relations and provide an understanding of what police officers routinely experience.
Mayor Paul Braun thanked this year’s graduates for taking the time to learn more about local law enforcement.
“Now you know what our officers do for the community and how hard they work to help keep us safe,” Braun said. “It is only through programs like this that we learn how difficult their jobs are. We want you to spread the word to other residents about what they can do to make Flossmoor a better community.”