Members of this year’s Citizens Police Academy are; ( Left to Right) is Eric Olson, Larry Byers, Samuel Beers, Rachel Groff, Kiva Simmons-Lee, Carrie Wilson, Preston Moore, Amanda Moore, Alan Drake, Juana Rodriguez-Maldonado, Jacob Carter, and Larry Smith. Not pictured are: Randy Gregoryck and Kara Pine. Photo courtesy Gardner Police Department

The Gardner Citizens Police Academy has been offered for six seasons. The most recent session ran ten weeks, meeting each Thursday for three hours. To date, there have been 83 citizen graduates.
“The primary goal of the CPA is to increase the positive interaction with the public,” said Officer Zach Roberts. “We want the citizens of Gardner to see what their police department does on a daily base. The CPA is a great opportunity for the participants to meet the officers of the Gardner Police Department and get a brief insight into the many aspects of law enforcement. After a participant graduates the CPA they are often asked to help with events such as traffic control at large city events and the fair.”
This is Roberts first year coordinating the CPA; previously it was coordinated by Detective Joe O’Lucci.
“With the climate the way it is surrounding law enforcement, it has been great meeting and interacting with the participants of the citizens’ police academy,” Roberts said. “This is a unique opportunity to build a positive relationship between the community and the Gardner Police Department.”
Students learned about school resources officer duties, CVSA(Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) program as it pertains to commercial vehicle safety, and the animal control unit and the equipment necessary to safely handle the animals. Participants also toured the Johnson County detention facility and ride in the prisoner transport vehicle.
Students also had the unique opportunity to use the MILO simulator, which had been loaned to the police department. The machine allows participants to interact with a video, which has multiple outcomes based on the students’ actions when they are placed in a simulated deadly force encounter It also allowed the students to have a new understanding for how quickly situations can change for officers and how quickly a seemingly routine encounter can turn dangerous.