WATERVILLE — Police are looking for 25 people from all walks of life to attend the Citizens’ Police Academy to learn about police work and acquire a better understanding of why police do what they do.

The free, 11-week academy, to be held at the police department at 10 Colby St., will include weekly 3-hour classes on Wednesdays. Topics to be covered include operating under the influence, use of force, community policing, registered sex offenders and domestic violence, according to police Chief Joseph Massey. Students also will have an opportunity to ride along with officers and sit in the communications center to observe police dispatchers do their jobs.

“For me, this is a great way for residents of this city to get an understanding of how the police department operates within its fiscal and legal restraints,” Massey said Friday. “And it also gives them awareness of the diverse demand and operational requirements that are placed on us every day.”

The police department started offering a citizens’ academy in 2002 and had its last one in 2006, according to Massey, who has been with the department 28 years. The first classes were held at the former Maine Criminal Justice Academy on Silver Street. Eventually the academy moved to Vassalboro, so Waterville police found a new location at the former Gilman Street School, which is now an apartment building.

Now, police have a brand new facility on Colby Street, so it is a perfect time to resurrect the academy and have students tour the new building, Massey said.

Those interested in attending the academy may pick up applications at the police department starting Monday, Aug. 4, or access applications on the department’s website at www.watervillepolice.org. Applications may be returned to the police department or filed online, he said. The deadline for submitting them is 4:30 p.m. Aug. 22. Chosen participants will be notified by Aug. 27.

“We try to get a diverse cross-section of professionals, nonprofessionals, seniors, young adults,” he said. “We really want a good representation of the community by getting that cross-section.”

Massey said a lot of people go through their daily lives without any interaction with police, and while they may know they have a police department, they may not understand the challenges police face every day and do not have a good knowledge of the things police can and can not do.

Each Wednesday, students will learn about two different topics with 1 1/2 hour devoted to one topic and the rest of the class to a second topic, he said. A 15-minute break will be held after the first half of the class.

During the first class, Massey will give an overview of the department and discuss the budget, staffing and related issues. Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey will do a presentation on the hiring process and internal affairs process, Massey said. The second week, criminal law and search and seizure will be discussed.

Classes covering the detective division, nuisance crimes, computer crimes, drug investigations, dispatching and other topics will follow. The classes will be taught by patrol officers, sergeants and detectives who will have developed lesson plans for their topics, Massey said. Each student will be given a binder the first night of class that includes information about weekly topics.

“It’s really a wonderful experience for us because it gives us an opportunity to interact directly with citizens,” Massey said.

Students will be able to ask candid questions and inquire why police do what they do, he added.

“I think it establishes a healthy relationship and a respectful relationship between police and the community,” he said.

Anyone with questions about the academy may contact Massey’s chief executive assistant, Kathleen Kenney-Haley, at 680-4700. They also may return online applications to her at [email protected]

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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