WHAT I AM ON ABOUT: The last session, and the Citizens Police Academy sessions in general, were both good, and not so good. A final sad note regarding Auxiliary Deputy Chief Sam Brown.
The final class of the Fall, 2006 Citizens Police Academy did not go gently into the good night. A session which should have been a simple stroll to our graduation, became a quite unwieldy evening.
There was a lot of material to cover in the session, which should have appropriately tied together loose ends. There was the class plaque to be discussed, recruitment, letting us know the speaker for the upcoming graduation, an address from the President of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, and closing remarks by the Captain of the Police Academy. Covering these areas would have led to a leisurely session with everyone leaving a little early, on a good note before the graduation session. However, this was not be.
Peculiarly, the powers to be at the Police Academy threw into the mix a very engaging, but lengthy, piece on what the NYPD is doing proactively regarding terrorism. Consequently, the final session had no break, and it went to the final minutes-plus. Leaving insufficient time to cover the plaque, and lingering questions for the class coordinator.
That all said, the recruitment section itself, though very low-key, was quite effective in selling the virtues of the joining the NYPD. The recruitment officer discussed the generous benefits package offered by the Police Department, particularly to seasoned officers, and the many job opportunities available within the Police Department. The officer’s effectiveness was in large part the result of his enthusiasm, and his evident belief in what he was selling.
Also, the section regarding anti-terrorism was quite engaging. We learned about the Nexus Unit, the Critical Response Vehicle, and the muscle on display Hercules Unit. The instructor provided us with a more microcosmic approach to terrorism within the NYPD, than our previous terrorism session did. The concern of the instructor’s unit is not so much a global view of terrorism, as our previous instruction was about, but more about proactive strategic responses to terrorism. This would have tied in very nicely with the previous session on terrorism, but was a lengthy mismatch in a session which was about preparing for our graduation.
Overall, unlike some vocal classmates, I am not walking away from the Citizens Police Academy euphoric, or believing my expectations for the Citizens Police Academy had been exceeded. Instead, I am walking away with mixed feelings.
I am walking away from the Citizens Police Academy training feeling that quite possibly I have not seen the whole picture. That the gulf between the theoretical and the practical may be bigger than the training let on. Unfortunately, I am not alone in my feeling, given the unnecessary hostile final session questions from a couple of my classmates, directed to the evening’s counter-terrorism instructor.
On the other hand, I also am also walking away from the Citizens Police Academy training very glad, and thankful, that I had the opportunity to learn about why the police often do, what they do. I have already taken this back with me to my job at New York Center in dealing with complainants, who turn to mediation after turning to the police.
So, the experience was very much a mixed bag.
As a final note to my days at the Citizens Police Academy; I was saddened to hear Staten Island Auxiliary Deputy Chief Sam Brown passed away a week ago on Sunday. Deputy Chief Brown arranged, and participated in, many of the of my rides to the Police Academy. An army buddy, and friend, of Elvis Presley, Chief Brown was a rugged individual who served many years with the Army. He believed very strongly in the good work that the police of Staten Island do. “I actually originally thought he was police brass;” Councilman McMahon recently told the Advance. The police have lost an impassioned ally for the work they do on Staten Island, and he will be missed.