Berkley Public Safety Department to start Citizens Police Academy

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 22, 2019

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BERKLEY — The Berkley Public Safety Department wants to reach its community better and is hoping to do so through its new Citizens Police Academy.

Berkley’s Citizens Police Academy will start its first six-week course Feb. 6, in which participants will be taught about the city’s police, medical and fire operations.

Public Safety Director Matt Koehn said the department always looks at outreach programs and how it can effectively interact with the community.

“There’s no better way than having people come in and show them what we do,” he said. “People see us on the street, and I like to think we’re trying to be as transparent and interact with the public as much as we can for good things, not just bad things. So this is kind of another way to do that, and it’s a little bit more structured, where we show them what different jobs we do.

“Just to give people an idea of what we do and why we do what we do and be able to answer questions … you can come up with lesson plans and show people things, but the best is the questions that people have that we can answer for them,” he said.

The class is organized and run by Lt. Jordan Kobernick, who said the sessions are not only to humanize their job, but to give an understanding to people of what public safety officers do and how much training is involved.

“Just really showing them how much training is involved in doing the three professions we do: medical, police and fire; how training-intensive that is; and then throwing that into, obviously, willing participants, if they want to put on fire gear and work with a live fire hose and show them what that’s like and how heavy the gear is,” he said. “It’s the parts people really don’t get to see.

“The global goal is to really build those relationships with everybody in town,” Kobernick said.

Kobernick also will be looking to bring in specialists to discuss specific topics during the class, including City Attorney Dan Christ and 44th District Court Judge Jamie Wittenberg for a discussion on law, and Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield will put on a mock crime scene for attendees.

“The whole thing’s honestly exciting,” he said. “The end goal is to really humanize us, make us approachable, let them know that we’re obviously there for them, but it’s to show them what we do and expose them to what we do.”

In addition to having attendees understand why public safety officers do what they do on the job, Koehn said he’d like attendees to take away from the course that officers are normal people.

“You see the uniform, you see the badge, you see the gun, and just that alone can be intimidating, but we’re all normal people doing a job,” he said. “We all have families and we’re normal people that just happened to be doing this job.”

Although the first class is now filled, the program will be repeated if residents continue to have interest. To possibly join the next class, contact Kobernick at (248) 658-3380 or by email at jkobernick@berkleypublicsafety.net.

Participants must be 18 years of age and have no criminal record. The class is free, though people must attend all six sessions to receive a certificate of completion.

Residents also can learn more about the Citizens Police Academy at www.berkleymich.org/departments/public_safety.

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