After ten 2.5-hour sessions, and topics ranging from evidence to domestic violence, and social work to firearms, I had the pleasure of graduating from the City of Bloomington Citizens Police Academy hosted by the Bloomington Police Department (BPD).
Unlike many of the other dozen or so participants, this was not about me reliving my interest in being a cop or my appreciation of crime shows (I do enjoy the French Connection). Never has this career path crossed my mind. In contrast, my role at The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is to advocate for business. One area we have prioritized during the last two years remains public safety. This was the ideal opportunity to gain experience firsthand about an issue I deal with as part of my professional and residential life as a homeowner in Bloomington. Plus, I am a proud alum of the Residence Academy and Leaders Bloomington-Monroe County. I enjoy civic engagement, learning about my community and the people who make it such a wonderful place to live.
Coming into the class, my interactions over the last 11 years with the BPD have been nothing but positive. Previously, I had done ride-alongs with officers as part of my local government MPA. I found them engaging and far more humorous than I was expecting. The times I have been pulled over for a traffic stop in town (California stops), the officers have been nothing but courteous. In contrast, before moving here, I would describe my view of policing in this country as negative through first-hand experience. This is putting it mildly.
My role in these academy sessions was not simply to pile on praise to law enforcement officials for their sacrifice but to ask tough questions, and to bring to light issues from the public safety angle. "Why not do it this way?" Being in a small class provided me with the luxury of having these pointed conversations. I came away impressed with the dedication, the service, and the community nature of the BPD. The culture there goes a long way in removing bad apples. That culture at BPD is enhanced by the rigorous hiring standards it upholds that are in line with this community's values.
The course itself was enjoyable. Multiple firsthand activities included a domestic dispute simulation with prop firearms, a tour and demonstration at the Dispatch Center, a look inside the armored rescue vehicle, an up-close look at various narcotics detained in evidence, and an illustration of how their defense tactics work. I had the wherewithal not to volunteer for the last one.
Takeaway: Important to judge the BPD by their own actions and not by the general state of policing in this country
Highlight: Getting car sick in the back seat of a police vehicle while driving during a training module exercise on a terminal at the Monroe County Airport