Citizens’ Police Academy Manual

Citizens’ Police Academy Manual

Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy Organization and Operations Manual

by Ena Foreman

General Academy Information

The Citizens’ Police Academy is designed to give participants a glimpse behind the badge and to provide information about training, policies, and the many units and divisions within local police agencies. The primary objective of the citizens’ academy is to build a better understanding between citizens and the police departments through education and to help citizens make informed decisions about police services, police activity, and why the police can or cannot take action. The police departments benefit by becoming more aware of the community from the participants’ interaction and input, which makes the academy a two-way learning experience.

To begin the organization of the next academy, arrange a meeting with the members of the Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy Committee. In this meeting, this is what will be discussed:

  • Time Frame
    • Number of sessions (8 or 9)
      • Potential weekend academy day
    • Start and end date of academy
    • Which weekday the academy will be offered
  • Class
    • Class size (roughly 30)
    • 18 years or older
    • Open to all residents and employees of:
      • PSU
      • State College Borough, College Township, Harris Township
      • Patton Township
      • Ferguson Township
  • Schedule of Courses
    • Courses/Topics that will be offered
    • Combined topics
    • Organizing Ride-Alongs
  • When to begin advertising
    • Recruitment Video, Flyers, Sharing on Social Media
  • When to open applications
    • 3-4 weeks before the start of the academy
    • If applications are not full, continue advertising
    • Speak to PSU classes (any CRIM class, Public Policy, SOC classes)
  • Read over previous class suggestions and recommendations and apply accordingly, if necessary
  • Potential Instructors for each topic

Required Tools

Google Drive

Google Drive is the easiest way to share access between multiple people involved in organizing Citizens’ Academy. This also gives you access to Google Forms, which you will need for the Application Form and the End-of-Academy Survey.

State College Borough Email Address

Request to get a Borough Email Address from the State College IT Department. This email will usually not go to spam and will look official when sending out Academy emails. This email will also allow you create a simplified Group Email to reach all academy participants.

Access to the State College Borough “J” Drive

In the J Drive, there will be a folder labeled Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy. This folder will have all prior Academy information, graphics, department logos, recruitment videos, and prior photos. It will also house all templates for schedules, flyers, weekly letters, acceptance letters, and more.

The Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy Operations Thumb Drive

All templates for documents, logos, powerpoints, image editing files, images, etc. have been uploaded to a Thumb Drive which is held by the State College Police Department Community Relations Officer (as of 2019, Officer Adam Salyards). It will have all the resources for running this academy on it.

GIMP or Photoshop

If edits to graphics or creation of graphics are necessary and you are proficient in GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) or Photoshop, these will be helpful tools. Templates have been created in both GIMP (.xcf) and Photoshop (.psd) file formats. If you do not feel comfortable using one of these, these templates have also been modified to a Word and/or PDF file , but with limited modifiability.

Microsoft Office

Because templates have been modified to Word Documents, you will need to have Word to edit said documents. In addition, Microsoft’s Excel or Google Sheets will be useful in creating Attendance sheets and viewing participant information. Powerpoint is also useful in case you need to create or edit presentations for the Academy.

A Canva Account

           Canva is a great resource for creating flyers, brochures, booklets, and other various graphic design projects. This can be used to make CCCPA Flyers, the Graduation Program, etc. You can make a free Canva account at www.Canva.com.

Schedule of Courses

The academy is 8 weeks long and may run 8 – 9 sessions depending on how it is organized that year. Because some topics are shorter in length, they can be combined with other topics to fulfil the length of the 2-hour class.

Here are some of the more popular topics held in the past:

Firearms/Range Day – Class was held at an outdoor shooting range and were given a lecture about the weapons police carry. Participants were then given the opportunity to shoot the weapons. This should be held on a non-football weekend day when the weather may be warmer.

Emergency Vehicle Operations Course & Motorcycle Demo – The instructors will give a brief lecture about the vehicles and the specific trainings police go through to operate the vehicles. The participants then get to ride along with the officers as they go through the EVOC slalom course and other driving exercises.

MILO Interactive Demo – The MILO system is a use-of-force simulation training in which participants have the opportunity to participate in realistic scenarios to understand the quick thinking and police response in high-stress scenarios.

Use-of-Force & Defensive Tactics – This is a presentation about the various use of force options police use. May include taser demos (probably on cardboard and not a person), self-defense tactics, and other use of force options.

Crisis Intervention Team – Participants will listen to a lecture about the CIT and who they are, what they do, and the trainings that are involved. At the end, participants will witness a scene being played out as to what an officer might encounter on a mental health cal.

K-9 & Bomb Squad – This is typically a combined lecture of the PSU/SCPD Bomb Squad Unit and the PSU K-9 Unit. The bomb squad will discuss their gear, trainings, potential scenarios, Bomb Robot, and a potential defusing of a training bomb (harmless). The K-9 will discuss the trainings and purpose of the dogs, including a potential demo of the working dog.

Crime Scene Investigations – Crime scene technicians will give a presentation and lecture about various aspects of crime scene investigations. The participants will then have an opportunity to learn about various ways of dusting for and retrieving fingerprints.

Tactical Response Team & Armored Response Vehicle – The TRT will give a lecture about the team and resources and show-and-tell about the various things used in a scenario where the TRT is necessary. The ARV may also be available for a tour and explanation of its purpose and importance.

Ask-an-Officer/Open Discussion Night – this is a class that can be held closer to the end of the academy, where participants have the opportunity to ask questions about any topics, and hold any open discussions

Court System – a magistrate judge would give a lecture about the workings of the court system and how the accused are processed through the court system

DUI Discussion – participants will learn about Drug Recognition Expert trainings and jobs, learn about the processes of a DUI, and experience Sobriety Tests and simulate being under the influence with Drunk Goggles

911 Dispatch/Call Center – participants will learn about the dispatch center, how calls work, and all that is involved with dispatching first responders

Ride-Alongs – participants will have the opportunity outside of academy class time to partake in a Ride-Along with their home/workplace residency

Scheduling: Instructors, Locations, and Dates

This is something you will need to have the Community Relations Officer do (currently Officer Adam Salyards as of 2019). They will be able to reach out to the other Community Relations Officers of participating departments. To assist with this, please create a document of the 8 or 9 sessions you will be holding for this academy year. This document will then be sent to the other departments where qualified instructors will be able to coordinate which classes they want to teach, the locations of classes, and the dates that are most convenient for each department. Please make sure this is done at least 2 weeks before the start of the academy.

Creating the Schedule

Once the instructors and departments have signed up for a class or two, use the 2019 CCCPA Schedule as a template to create the schedule for the next academy. Keep this schedule handy. Also please note that sometimes things come up for officers and this schedule is subject to change. If this happens, please edit accordingly and let participants know of the changes as soon as possible.


Although the participating departments should be able to fund this academy, it is still important to reach out to sponsors that can help with extra food and snacks or transportation. Common sponsors are Weis, Giant, and Wegmans. For a pizza night, should you choose to have one, Canyon Pizza typically will help sponsor the academy. Start by writing a letter to potential sponsors, stating what the academy is about and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring the academy.

Money to sponsor the academy goes to provide snacks and refreshments to participants, transportation if needed, or T-Shirts. Weis, Giant, and Wegmans will give a gift card for their store and to thank them we put a sign by the snacks and refreshments to offer them recognition. For monetary sponsorships, we offer them recognition at the first academy session, in the Graduation Booklet, and offer to put their logo on our Academy T-Shirts that participants receive upon graduation.

Academy Advertising

The State College Police Department has a Twitter page in which you can share the CCCPA Promotional Video with a link for registration.  You can also ask the Community Relations Officer to reach out to the Borough Communications coordinator and ask them to post it on the Borough of State College Facebook Page. In addition, you can ask Ferguson Township, Patton Township, and Penn State Police to share the video on their social media platforms.

In addition, there is a flyer in the CCCPA Folder which you can edit to suit academy needs, and post it on social media as well as local bulletins in common places such as grocery stores, Penn State Commons, municipal buildings, etc. Make sure you add the registration link when advertising!

Application Process

This is the link for 2019 Application Form for registering Participants:


For future academies, you will have to make a copy of the application form, and update the information (season, year, number of sessions, potential participating agencies, the website link, etc.). All of the questions in the form are necessary for the application and can remain the same. The only foreseeable changes are those in the Township and Workplace/Student Residency to include other areas should this program expand.

Because the ideal class is up to 30 participants, the application should be closed after 37-38 responses. This accounts for people not passing background checks, those ineligible for the program to residency or age. In addition, it accounts for the fact that since it is a free program several people may not attend the academy at all.

You will want to create a spreadsheet in Google Docs to manage all of the responses. When in the Application Form in “edit” mode, you will click on this icon:       in the top right of the form.

  • For easier viewing, you can hide columns A and B, so that the spreadsheet begins with their name. To alphabetize, right click the column letter, and click “sort sheets AàZ”
  • The departments should use a color-coding method of the boxes to assist with background checks:
    • Red: Did not clear Background Check
    • Yellow: Ineligible due to home and/or workplace residency or age
    • Light Green: Passed background check, accepted into academy

Once the application form has reached 37-38 responses, please close the form with a message such as:

Thank you for your interest in the Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy. The Fall 2019 Academy has reached its capacity and is no longer accepting applications. We will be holding another academy in Fall 2020, and we hope you will consider applying then!

Emailing List

During this time of the application process, create an emailing list to all of the applicants. This will be the primary form of communication to all participants.

In Outlook, this can be done by going to “Groups” on the left menu bar and creating a new group. Unselect the “Members will receive all group conversations and events…” box.  Name the email CentreCountyCitizensPoliceAcademy19@statecollegepa.us. Please insert relevant year in lieu of “19”.  

Add all the applicants to this emailing list. Once applications close, please send out the “Thank You for Applying” email. This will let people know that their application is being reviewed and pending acceptance. This letter template can be found in the Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy folder. Please update it to current year and signature, but other information should be the same.

Acceptance into Academy

Once applicants have cleared their background checks, remove any applicants who did not pass the background check or are ineligible for the academy from the emailing list.

You may then send an email with the “Acceptance Letter.” Again, update this letter with current academy information, information about the 1st academy session, and the signature. Attach the Academy Schedule to this email so that participants may have it for reference.

For those that did not pass their background checks or are ineligible, have a State College Community Relations/ Crime Prevention Officer send an email to those applicants, denying their application.

Creating Attendance Sheet

Participant Attendance is very important for the academy as it shows not only the interest in academy, but also who gets a graduation certificate at the end as well as a T-Shirt. To create the Attendance Sheet, simply input the accepted participants into the 2019 CCCPA Attendance Sheet and rename it for the next year.

Prior to 1st Academy Session

Roughly 1 week before the first of the Academy, send out a letter to participants once again attaching the schedule, but also writing them a letter about the first session, what they should expect, location, time, parking information (with a map preferably), and directions to the class if needed. You can use the template example provided under the Weekly Letter Examples folder.

Prior to the start of the academy, please create a welcome packet for each participant. Each packet will contain the Confidentiality Agreement, 2019 Sponsorships (adjusted for the current academy), a hard copy of the Schedule, and a CCCPA Button. If for whatever reason you do not know how to make a button, please ask the Community Relations officer to print out the template (located in the Logos & Banners subfolder).  

Send a reminder email to participants 1-2 days before the academy session!

You can create Name Buttons two ways.

  1. There is a template in the folder “Name Buttons”. You can add the participant names within the PDF template and then print it and make it as a button. You can then hand these out at the beginning of the 1st academy session so everyone has a CCCPA Name Button.
  2. Print it as is with the names blank and make the buttons like normal. At the first academy session, bring sharpies and have the participants write their names on the blank badges.

Either way, they should have name buttons so they can get to know each other better.

Academy Session #1

You might have to go shopping to get snacks and beverages if able. Suitable snacks are the small/personal bags of chips and pretzels, cookies, doughnuts, granola bars, etc. Cases of water bottles or cups for lemonade, tea, or coffee are common beverages for academy

Before the class begins, arrange the room with tables and chairs for participants to sit. At each seat, place a welcome packet and a pen. When people start arriving, introduce yourself, get their name for attendance, and tell them to take a seat anywhere they’d like.

To give people extra time to arrive, start academy 5 minutes after the start time. Introduce yourself again, welcome them to academy, and make sure that they fill out the Confidentiality Agreement and return it to you by the end of the session. In addition, go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves with an ice breaker.

After that, let the instructors take over and carry on with the Academy.


During all academy sessions, make sure to get photos of the participants interacting and learning in academy. If you have your own camera, that’s great, or a cell phone will do. Upload these into the CCCPA subfolder “Photos” and create another subfolder for the year of the academy. Participants like to see these photos at the graduation ceremony!

Academy Session #2 through 7 or 8 (not including graduation)

1-2 days before the start of the next academy, send another email with information about the topic(s), location, directions, parking, etc.

Arrive to the location well in advance, introduce yourself to the instructors if necessary, and help set up for the academy sessions. Greet the participants and take their attendance as they arrive.

Remember to take photos in each session!

If necessary, stay later and answer any questions you need to, thank the instructors, and help them clean up.

Academy Graduation – Preparation


This is something you should address 3-4 weeks in advance of graduation. In the initial application form, T-Shirt Sizes were collected for participants. Make sure you have the appropriate number of sizes for the academy. The Community Relations officer oversees purchasing shirts for the academy. Participants who attended at least 7 of 9 or 6 of 8 (depending on how many classes you choose to hold) get a T-Shirt. This is when attendance comes in handy!!

Your job is to edit the shirt designs. Currently, they are saved under the “Shirt Designs” folder and are labeled “front” and “back”. The back design can be sent in as is and does not need changed. The front design will need to be updated with the year of the academy. This can be done in photoshop or gimp, or another photo-editing software. As the image is white, they must be saved as a PNG to preserve the transparent background. If this is something you cannot figure out, you may be able to send in the logos as is and have the T-Shirt person edit it to the appropriate year.


Participants who have attended at least 5 of 8 or 6 of 9 academy sessions will receive a CCCPA Certificate. Depending on your skill set, the template for the certificates can be edited in Word, Gimp, Photoshop, or as a PDF to account for all of the deserving participants. These can be printed at the State College Police Department with fancy certificate paper. You should ask the Community Resource officer for help in doing this to make sure everything prints properly.

The Graduation Program

The Graduation program can be edited in several ways, from GIMP, Photoshop, but the easiest method would be via Canva. This program should include photos from the academy, a thank you message, and a list of the sponsors. There is an example within the CCCPA folder.


The Community Relations officer is in charge of setting up catering for the academy. Previously used was Brown Dog Catering, but others can be used as well. Make sure there are vegetarian and gluten-free options in case anyone has dietary restrictions!

Academy Graduation

Academy Graduation is pretty simple. Double check that only participants who have proper attendance receive their certificates and T-Shirts. Give the certificates to the presenter and the T-shirts can be laid out on a table for participants to pick up. The instructor(s) will present their last topic, and then follows the certificate ceremony. Once everyone has their certificates, there will be a group photo of all of the participants, attending instructors, attending Chiefs, and you!

The catering company should have all of the food set up and ready to go. If possible, use a laptop or a projector to display a slideshow of all of the photos you have taken throughout academy. Talk to participants about their experience and when they leave, thank them for attending! After everyone leaves, help clean up!

Post – Academy Survey

This is the link for the 2019 Post Academy Survey. All you will need to do it make a copy of it in Google Drive, and update it with relevant current academy information:


You will then send this out to the participants and ask them to please fill out the survey for future academy improvements and suggestions. You will want to send this out 2-3 times as a reminder in case people didn’t get to it, or about 90% of the participants have filled it out. Thank them for their time and dedication to the academy and wish them well.

You can review the responses and hope that you received great feedback! Please share the survey responses by adding the Community Relations officer as a collaborator within Google Docs.

Congratulations! You have successfully run the Centre County Citizens’ Police Academy!