Citizen’s Police Academy 5
UPD educates students, staff on being a police officer
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 18:01
For the fifth-straight year, the University Police Department (UPD) is holding the UB Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA), which gives students and staff members the opportunity to understand what it takes to be a police officer.
CPA, which begins on Feb. 13, is based on a nation-wide police program that teaches the average citizen about a variety of topics involving how to defend the public as well as themselves. This year, CPA is adding its first internship program.
UPD Lieutenant David Urbanek is involved with CPA and emphasized how important it is for people to know the police are the “good guys.” Officers should know how to appropriately conduct themselves in their profession.
“Training is very, very important,” Urbanek said. “You’ve all seen things on the news and YouTube of the public interpreting the police acting inappropriately. Good training can keep all of those behaviors in line.”
It is important for new police officers to know the mental work that goes into being a cop or a detective. Urbanek said the program tests students’ and staff members’ objectivity and ability to stay calm, reasonable and assertive in various situations.
Using force has to be justified and only as a last resort, according to Urbanek. In the program, students experience the duties of a police officer instead of sitting through lectures.
Urbanek believes using words, rather than force, is more effective. He calls this tactic “verbal judo,” a method he plans to teach his students.
Richard Donovan, a senior political science major and one of the new CPA interns, explained how students can learn about different areas of police work and how to operate in various scenarios. Activities of the program included riding along with officers in patrol cars, learning to use pepper spray and utilizing self-defense tactics.
“One night we had a guy come in, who was either a lieutenant or a patrolman and had a son who was an intern when we were in the academy,” Donovan said. “He had a lot of training in pressure points and defense tactics. We learned what happens when someone comes at you or how you restrain people so they can’t hurt you. Everyone that came each night had something different that they brought to the table.”
Donovan emphasized the importance of all students – especially those who want to work in law enforcement – to learn what it takes for an officer to keep the average citizen safe. The students outnumber the police, which demonstrates the difficulty in maintaining stability in tough situations, he said.
“They really work hard and try to keep everyone safe,” Donovan said.
Students who join CPA can gain crucial knowledge from the program that can be used in any profession, according to Donovan.
One of the biggest lessons the students learn is how to pay attention to their surroundings. As practice for identifying a suspect, the lieutenant would arrange for a stranger to come into the classroom and take something while the students were on a break.
“I wasn’t even paying attention, and I couldn’t tell you what her hair color was or what jacket she was wearing,” Donovan said. “That’s something you can learn and take with you into something else, as far as being able to look at small details.”
Donovan hopes to work in the Secret Service or the FBI in the future.
Urbanek started planning an internship program with UPD Chief Gerald Schoenle when Schoenle came to UB in 2006. The idea came from internship programs from other police departments they researched, specifically Amherst Police Department, Cheektowaga Police Department and Arlington Texas Police Department.
The activities in detective work and patrol have fostered a huge waiting list for internships, according to Urbanek.
CPA will work with other police departments to create and change programs and activities. CPA will focus on making sure UB students will be put on the list, but students from other schools will also be given the opportunity.
Classes for CPA begin Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Bissell Hall at 6:30 p.m. The program will be conducted in other locations in the Buffalo area as well.