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The Daily Tar Heel

Police academy: Police department program should help transparency

Local law enforcement is often perceived as an intrusive force rather than a protective organization.

The Chapel Hill Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy is a great way to combat such a perspective by reaching out to citizens in an effort to establish a stronger community understanding of law enforcement operations.

Chapel Hill police came under scrutiny last September after an incident involving the detention of resident Charles Brown.

Although the town found no wrongdoing by the police department, the incident sparked calls for greater transparency in the department.

The Citizens Police Academy is a step in the right direction.

The program will take place over 10 weeks beginning April 6. It aims to provide participants with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the daily operations of the police department.

It will also help local law enforcement officers become more aware of community safety concerns and provide police more thorough citizen feedback about police response.

Participants will learn about basic law enforcement training, firearms, investigations, gangs, patrol operations and the criminal justice system.

A good relationship with the police department is important for the UNC community.

In light of increasing alcohol-related citations and an elevated number of robberies last fall, the need for police communication with members of the community is greater than ever.

Many students associate police officers with feelings of apprehension and negativity.

Measures like the Citizens Policy Academy can help forge a better relationship between the community and, in turn, increase understanding and cooperation between the two entities.

Although the Citizens Police Academy will run past the end of the semester, allowing permanent residents — who often share safety concerns with the student body — to communicate with and learn from Chapel Hill Police Department officials will undoubtedly prove beneficial.

We commend the Chapel Hill Police department in its efforts to educate the community about local law enforcement and encourage them to create more communication-oriented initiatives like the Citizens Police Academy.

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