Each spring and fall the Vernon Hills Police Department hosts a program known as the Citizen's Police Academy (CPA). Between 10 and 14 lucky residents, age 21 and over, get to participate in this program. The CPA is a free 12-week program in which participants meet once a week for 2½ - 3 hours each week to learn about law enforcement. In fact, they don't just learn about any law enforcement, but specifically Vernon Hills law enforcement. In the past, members of the CPA have ranged from individuals considering law enforcement as a career to senior citizens who wish to learn more about their police department. Sometimes husbands and wives participate in the class together.
Highlights of the CPA include a lesson in the safe use of firearms and a ride-along with an officer on patrol. Members also have an opportunity to experience the FATS (FireArms Training System) machine. The FATS machine is a computerized judgmental police training device that uses laser- equipped weaponry. That's a fancy way of saying it's like an interactive video game!
The culmination of the program comes in the second to last week, where participants get to don the gear of a high-risk entry team and utilize simunition equipment in order to pursue an active "shooter." This is a practical exercise which requires class participants to draw upon all they have learned about police procedures, firearms, use-of-force and split-second decision making in order for them to resolve the situation.
Sound interesting? The CPA has been a very popular and well-critiqued program since its inception in 1994. There is normally a waiting list for participation, but names are always accepted. SIGN UP TODAY! Interested residents should contact the Crime Prevention Unit at (847) 247-4889 or via e-mail.
Although Vernon Hills was one of the first communities in the area to offer a Citizen's Police Academy for its residents, the concept is nationwide. All citizens are encouraged to contact your local police department to learn about the availability of a CPA where you live. You can also visit the web site of the National Citizen's Police Academy Association.
To give you a better idea of the program, here are the topics we cover:
Traffic Law Enforcement
Use of Force / Handcuffing
Gang Issues / Tactical Unit (TAC)
Drug Issues / MEG
FireArms Training Simulator
DUI Laws and Enforcement
Rapid Deployment Training
Here are some photos from some recent Vernon Hills CPA classes:
CPA students "subduing" an armed offender.
An evening in the gun range.
Simunitions training at Westfield Hawthorn.