The concept of the Citizens Police Academy actually started in the United Kingdom in 1977. It began in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, England. A police night school was implemented to allow citizens, who were anxious to learn about police functions, police operations, and the organization of the police system in England. The founders received an immediate response from the public. They were soon overwhelmed with applicants wanting to know about their police force. The project was so successful that it was permanently adopted as part of an ongoing police public relations program.
In 1985, the Orlando, Florida Police Department adopted the concept of the Police Night School for their agency, and created the first Citizens Police Academy in the United States. The ultimate goal of the Orlando Citizens Police Academy was to reduce crime through a stronger citizen commitment to the police department and the community. Success was instantaneous, and a new law enforcement tool was found.
Word of the success spread and, in that same year, Missouri City, Texas joined in and adopted the same concept. Today, you will find Citizen Police Academy programs throughout the United States in communities large and small.
The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary covers the largest geographical police area in England, extending 180 miles from the Dorset and Somerset borders in the east to the Isles of Scilly in the west. Web site.
More than a thousand community-oriented citizens graduated the program. Law enforcement agencies across the nation started their own citizen police academies, allowing thousands of citizens to participate in the program. Other public service agencies have initiated similar programs, such as Citizen Fire Academies. Web site.
Missouri City combined the citizen police and fire academies into a six week program meeting twice weekly. Web site.