AYER -- Ayer Police Department is hosting a Citizen's Police Academy after a two-year absence, in hopes of an ever-improving relationship with residents.
Applications are currently being accepted.
A program that was once funded by federal grant money has been made possible this year by the Police Department's budget. The course will run for 12 weeks, Sept. 25 to Dec. 11, meeting once a week on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m.
The course is open to all citizens who live or work in Ayer at no cost. Its purpose is to allow the community to have a better understanding of what the police do to keep the town safe on a day-to-day basis.
"The goal of the program is to provide insight to the people we serve as to what our department does," said Academy Director, Sgt. John MacDonald.
"This has been a successful program in opening lines of communication between the public and our department," he said. "With police and the community working together, we can better solve our problems.
"The academy provides an opportunity for our officers to have positive contacts with citizens and form lasting relationships with them," said MacDonald. "In the end, we have found people are more willing to call the police after completing our program because we are no longer strangers to them and they feel comfortable approaching us with their concerns.
"Oftentimes, we are called to situations when people are at their worst, so this is a great opportunity for us to meet people under more ideal circumstances," MacDonald said.
The program is open to anyone over the age of 17. High school seniors interested in law enforcement or criminal justice are urged to join as well as others simply interested in police work.
Classes will focus on one subject per class consisting of in-class lessons and field trips. Areas to be covered this fall are court proceedings, forensics, crime scene management, rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, criminal investigations, use of force, community policing, firearms demonstration, operating under the influence of alcohol, traffic enforcement and CPR certification.
Field trips will include observation of a court proceeding at Ayer District Court, a ride in a marked police cruiser with an officer on duty, and weapon-firing at the APD training range.
"The goal of this program is to break down barriers between us and our citizens. We want to be approachable to the people of Ayer," MacDonald said.
Students will have a criminal background check and must not have been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years or a misdemeanor in the past five. There are 25 seats available, given on a first-come, first-served basis.
Applications can be found at the Police Department. For questions, contact Sgt. MacDonald at 978-772- 8200 est. 570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.