New Partnership Seeks to Reinforce Police Ties to the Community

By J.D. O’Gara
Franklin Police & Franklin Lifelong Community Learning to Offer Citizen Police Academy
Shown are Brenda Reed and Chris Nayler, of the Lifelong Learning Institute, with Lieutenant James West, of the Franklin Police Department. Franklin Lifelong Learning and Franklin Police are collaborating this fall for the first time to offer Citizen Police Academy, one of three classes aimed at strengthening ties between the community and their police officers.
Issue Date: 
September, 2017
Article Body: 

What’s it like to be a police officer? Why do they do things the way they do? How is evidence collected, and what should you do if you’re stopped for speeding?
Members of the Franklin community will now be able to find out, with the Citizen Police Academy, now offered through a partnership between the Franklin Police Department and the Franklin Public Schools’ Lifelong Community Learning. Starting September 13, the 10-week class for community members aged 21 and older will be held on Wednesday nights, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Franklin Police Station, 911 Panther Way.
“The Citizen Police Academy idea isn’t new. Its goal is to tell the attendees what we do and how we do it,” says Lt. West, who says the Franklin Police offered the program themselves back in 2006, but have not been able to do so again due to lack of staffing and funds. As the situation had improved, West happened to be looking into offering it again, just around the time Brenda Reed, from the Lifelong Community Learning Institute, was looking at collaborating with the Police Department.
“In late May, early June, I was working with someone at the police department to do a Women’s Self Defense Workshop, and also a class for children who find themselves home alone. At that time, I was informed that Lt. West was taking a look at a Citizen Police Academy,” says Reed.
“This is the first time we’ve partnered with the Lifelong Learning Institute,” says West. “I think it’s a great partnership.” West notes that Lifelong Learning’s handling of the administrative tasks helps the department, “and probably, more importantly, gets it out to more people.”
“We’re excited about coming together on three fronts with the Franklin Police, this (Citizen Police Academy) being the most significant,” says Reed. “This is a good size partnership with public safety.” Reed says this is the first time Franklin Lifelong Learning has collaborated like this with safety officials, so the program “is a bit of a pilot program,” which she hopes to expand.
West explains that in addition to the Citizen Police Academy giving its students an idea of why police do what they do, the class, importantly, “builds partnerships with the community.”
“There are many reasons the relationships with the community is very important. It goes back to community policing,” says West. “The more we’re engaged in the community, the more apt they are to tell us (when they need us). We talk about transparency. It’s important for us to be transparent so they can trust us.”
West explains that for community members who see policing on television, such as “Cops,” who may form opinions of what they observe, the Citizens Police Academy may shed light on why some of the things are done the way they are.
West, who instructed the Citizen Police Academy class of 2006, is still in touch with some of the students, which illustrates the lasting impression this sort of outreach has.
“That partnership with the community is the biggest thing for me. We’re just humans, we’re just good people trying to do a job, and they’ll get a better understanding of how we do things and why,” says West.
Given the degree of access participants will have during the program, some requirements of participants will apply, including the successful completion and approval of a Criminal Offense Record Information (CORI) filing.
“Although the information we give out is basic, class participants may be around some sensitive information around the station,” says West. He adds that “We do our best to get everybody to go on a ride-along.”
Each attendee will be given the opportunity to ride with a Franklin Police Officer during his or her tour of duty to experience the duties and responsibilities of the officers firsthand. Ride-alongs will last approximately 3-4 hours.
In addition, the class size is limited to 25, with an age requirement of 21.
“We limit it because we want folks to be able to have the kind of experience they’re expecting – hands on, with the ability to speak to instructors,” says Reed
“I like to think there are a couple of talents that came together here, and we all get to do what we like doing and we can get this moving, going and lasting,” says Reed.
Lt. West says he can’t see how the program can be anything but a success. The last time the Franklin Police Department offered it (without the new partnership), it attracted community members of all types.
“There were all different ages, men, women – a very diverse class. We had some parents of kids who are maybe high school age, some 20-year-olds who were interested in the career and wanted to learn more before they got started,” says West.
The Academy registration fee is $90. Participants can register online at on the Lifelong Community Learning page. For more information you can call Lt. James West (508) 440-2726 or Brenda Reed (508) 613-1483. You can also visit or