Community Police Academy: Successful Winter Program Inspires Plans for Fall 2019
Great Barrington Police Sgt. Adam Carlotto and Officer Tim Ullrich want the public to know: police work isn’t quite like a prime-time TV or your favorite Netflix cop series.
Police work – especially in a small town – can be slow and routine, punctuated by in-the-moment emergencies, serious crimes, a citizen’s need for help or a search for a missing person. There are rules and procedures for almost everything police officers do; and much of what they do must hold up in court as credible, responsible and unbiased. Car chases and foot chases are hardly an everyday occurrence.
To clarify any myths or romantic ideas of police work, and to educate and inform, Carlotto and Ullrich) this past winter organized and led a local Community Police Academy at the Great Barrington Police Department. The informal weekly meetings attracted 13 participants of varying ages and backgrounds, men and woman, aspiring police officers and the generally curious. They attended six, three-hour sessions to learn about the myriad elements of police work–which crisscross the everyday social issues such as substance abuse, poverty, domestic discord and homelessness.
“People do want to know, ‘What does a police officer really do?’” said Carlotto. “We can help answer these questions.”
For Carlotto and Ullrich, the Academy was so successful that they are planning another for the coming fall. The Academy, they note, is a proactive element of community policing, in which police seek opportunities to connect with citizens in neutral, informal ways that build mutual understanding and respect. Some people never talk with a police officer unless they are pulled over for speeding or need police help in an emergency.
Academy students learned about the rules governing police searches, ongoing investigations, impaired driving, traffic stops. They learned about the use of tasers, the use of search warrants. They donned funny glasses that simulate the effects of impaired driving, from drugs or alcohol. They met other members of the Great Barrington Police department, an assistant district attorney and a court employee. They learned about the more mundane aspects of day to day police work, procedures, schedules and holiday coverage in the department.
The Citizens Police Academy kept the attention of its participants and will soon be taking the measurement of interest in another series.
Carlotto joined the Great Barrington Police Department 13 years ago; Ullrich has been with the department nine years, preceded by nine years with the Sheffield Police Department. They noted that they led the Academy during their shifts, which meant other officers stepped up to fill in during their shifts – so it was a department-wide effort.
“This was a great outreach effort and we appreciate citizens’ willingness to invest time in meeting informally with us,” said Officer Ullrich, whose “partner” is the department’s K-9 search dog, Titan.
Residents interested in participating in an upcoming Citizens Police Academy are invited to contact the Great Barrington Police Department, (413) 528-0306.