Rebecca Cola wanted to get a better understanding of what police officers deal with on a daily basis.
As a social worker, she had heard discussions of social workers taking the place of police officers in some areas, and she didn’t see how that could work.
After witnessing an incident when a police officer responded to a domestic dispute on the street, she was impressed by the officer’s quick response and how he put himself at risk.
So, Cola decided to participate in the Noblesville Police Dept. Citizens Police Academy.
“It’s always helpful for social workers to gain understanding of the bigger picture,” Cola said.
Cola, a Noblesville resident, is a social worker for The Salvation Army. She is the regional coordinator for Pathway of Hope. Pathway of Hope is the long-term case management organization for families provided by The Salvation Army at 33 field sites in Indiana.
“I travel the state of Indiana supporting the case managers and enrolled families in strength-based counseling, goal setting and working toward breaking intergenerational poverty,” Cola said.
Cola took the program in the fall. The next 12-week program runs from Feb. 9 to April 20. Classes are held every Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
NPD Lt. Bruce Barnes said the purpose of the Citizens Police Academy is to familiarize citizens with the operations of the police department. It includes classes on patrol procedures, criminal law, narcotics, search and seizure, tactical operations, investigations, juvenile law, firearms demonstrations, emergency vehicle operations, use of force issues and police canine demonstrations. Barnes said participants also have the option to ride with a patrol officer and witness street activity officers encounter daily.
Barnes said the feedback from the community has been exceptional.
“When the program first launched in the fall of 2013, we received such an overwhelming amount of interest that we were booked two years out,” Barnes said. “Most attendees describe the experience as educational, eye-opening and in-depth.”
Class size is limited to 15. Participants have to live or work in Noblesville and must be at least 16 years old.
“It was fun,” Cola said of the classes. “They have a binder which shows the agenda. So, you knew ahead of time what the plan is for each class.”
Cola said the class provided opportunities to ask questions.
“The patrol division was talking about police chases, and there was one around that time,” Cola said. “They wanted to get feedback from the participants, ‘What did we think about it?’ It was very interactive. They were listening to us as much as we were listening to them. We talked about neighborhood watches, and visiting the jail was amazing.”
Cola said she has a tremendous appreciation for law enforcement as her brother is a federal law enforcement officer for Homeland Security.
“It was fun for us to talk shop,” Cola said.
For more, visit Citizens Police Academy page under public safety at cityofnoblesville.org.