The township police department will host its third annual Citizen Police Academy course beginning on Oct. 6 at its Sewell headquarters.
“We want to connect with the community, first and foremost,” said Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik. “We want the community to know there is a person behind the badge and that by attending our academy, they will get to know our officers better and understand the job we do and why we do it the way we do.”
When Gurcsik became police chief in 2017, he and his fellow officers changed their mission statement to prioritize community caretaking. The result has not only resulted in events like Cops and Bobbers and Cool Off with a Cop, but also those like Junior Police Academy and the aforementioned citizen academy, where residents get an inside look at the department’s everyday operations.
That course will be held every Thursday in October from 6 to 8 p.m. for residents 18 and older. Each session will teach residents new information about the police force infrastructure, from general law enforcement and physical fitness and nutrition to lessons from the detective bureau about crime scene processing and traffic stops.
“We will go over general law-enforcement concepts and responsibilities,” Gurcsik noted. “We hope that residents will gain a greater understanding of our practices and gain a sense of law- enforcement agencies’ duties and responsibilities.”
Other aspects of the academy include a full tour of police headquarters as well as the 911 dispatch center, a K-9 demonstration and a lesson on firearms training and handcuffing. At the end of the four weeks, the graduating class will participate in a final ceremony and receive a township police T-shirt.
“It is not a huge commitment to our residents: The classes are only two hours a night for the four Thursdays of the month,” said Gurcsik, who added that he hopes to draw about 20 residents to the academy. “We are trying to do as much as we can in four short weeks … We know people have other responsibilities with school and sports.”
Along with using the police academy as a chance to inform residents about the police department, there will also be a firearms safety seminar on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. The seminar will be taught by Sgt. Eric Caveng and will cover topics from gun laws and functions to permits and proper storage.
“The United States Supreme Court ruled that residents have the right to apply for permit to carry permits,” Gurcsik explained. “So we are receiving a ton of questions about how to apply for a permit, how to carry, where can I shoot, what do I do with a deceased relative’s firearm, etc.”
The township police headquarters is at 1 McClure Drive in Sewell. Those interested in the Citizen Police Academy, or who want to register, can email Caveng at email@example.com.