MICHIGAN CITY – Many kids grow up wanting to be a police officer, then grow up and find a different career path.
But for those still harboring those early dreams – or just interested in the when, where, how and why of being a cop – there's still a chance, at least for a few weeks.
"Ever wonder what it is like to be a police officer? This year we are willing to give you a chance," Michigan City Police Sgt. Chris Yagelski said.
"The MCPD is looking for members of the community who would like to experience the inner workings of what it is like to be a police officer," he said.
It's ninth annual Citizen’s Police Academy and begins Sept. 26 and runs for seven weeks at the MCPD Community Room. A final graduation dinner will be Thursday, Nov. 7.
"It's an opportunity for members of the community to become closely acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of the police department," Yagelski said. "The Police Academy brings the police and the community close together in a setting that offers a sample of police training to each participant."
Participants receive two and a half hours of training starting at 6 p.m. each Thursday in many of the varied functions of law enforcement.
"Our class experiences some of the highlights of police training and are exposed to the daily operations of the police department," Yagelski said. "Listening to previous classes, they all want more so we decided to add an additional day to the program."
So on Wednesday, Nov. 6, academy participants will be introduced to the new “Virtual Shooting Range.”
Another favorite session of past classes, he said, was the Crime Scene Investigation class "where they could not get enough time in our regular session. We have included a bonus day on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 26 to do the 'Investigating and Crime Scene," Yagelski said.
"There will be three separate Investigative Teams in a friendly competition. Each will be assigned a homicide detective as an advisor and will be able to utilize our police equipment, along with video, photography, evidence handling and dealing with a real murder victim, suspects and scenes," he said.
"Participants are also taught the basics of criminal law, search and seizure, patrol tactics, firearm safety, Taser, traffic laws, hostage negotiations, and many other subjects," according to Yagelski. "They will learn about the processing of a crime scene, how police canines are used, and will be exposed to many of the specialty police units."
MCCPA participants meet and talk with many of the officers, as well as the command staff and training staff that serves them, he said. "All this takes place in a safe and entertaining training environment at new police station."
Instructors are state certified law enforcement professionals who teach both veteran and recruit officers, he said.
"All our classes leave this training with a greater understanding of police work, and with an increased ability to see how the police serve our community," he said, though the program is not an accredited certification course to become an officer.
And there's a difference between the MCPD academy and others, he said.
"We have fun. Our academy is a hands-on interactive approach in which each student gets to participate in numerous activities that prove to be educational, yet fun and exciting."
Class size is limited to 36 participants and they fill up fast, Yagelski said. All interested persons must be at least 21 years old, must complete an application, and must give permission for the MCPD to conduct a background check to determine if they have a criminal record.
All classes are free, including all training materials, a T-shirt and hoody, plus refreshments and other giveaways.
Applications must be returned by mail or in person to the MCPD front desk by Sept. 16.
For more information or to get an application, contact Yagelski at 219-873-1461, ext. 1020; or Rhonda Swistek at ext. 1021.