The Kettering Citizen Police Academy Alumni assist the Kettering Police Department by performing a multitude of tasks that free up the police officers to do more specialized work and concentrate on solving serious problems.
Police officers often have a negative perception by the public which hampers their effectiveness in addressing community problems, so in mid-1993, the Kettering Police Department initiated a Citizen Police Academy. The Academy is a series of 10 weekly classes to inform interested citizens about the work of the Police Department. Two citizens, from the early classes, were so impressed by the actual services provided by the department that they wanted to help the police enhance their services. With the Kettering Police Department, they formed the Citizen Police Academy Alumni to free up the police officers and staff to do more specialized work.
Since the organization’s inception, the 103 Citizen Police Academy Alumni volunteers have donated more than 12,000 hours of service. They perform many tasks to help the Police Department: they draw targets for the gun ranges, wash police cars, maintain the emergency equipment carried in patrol cars, enter computer data, act as regional coordinators in crime prevention, coordinate participation in parades and exhibits, deliver the crime prevention newsletter to 22,000 Kettering households, prepare mailings, review records for microfilming, help with DUI checks, keep a pin map of area crime incidents and operate a speed watch program.
One of the most visible and effective activities has been the speed watch program. Volunteers check the speed of vehicles by radar in a specially marked police cruiser. Speeders are issued a letter reminding them of the speed limit and how fast they were going. However, if the offender is a youth, the officers will talk to both the youth and the parents. The Kettering Police Chief feels that citizens are really watching their speed and says that the program has reduced accidents in the selected enforcement target area by 24 percent.
Another example of the effectiveness of the volunteer assistance is that two evenings per week, volunteers do fingerprinting for citizens who require the service for employment purposes. This past year, they fingerprinted their 2,500th individual.
Additionally, the Citizen Police Academy volunteers have helped raised funds for the Police Foundation. Funds are used for disaster relief, scholarships, criminal justice students and field police training.
At least six citizens from each of the 15 classes are now volunteering for the Kettering Police Department. They are constantly suggesting areas where they can help. Additionally, the success of the program encouraged the department to initiate a Student Police Academy during the after school hours. These students, some of whom were considered at-risk, are now volunteering for the police.