Session set for Lake Forest Citizens Police
Detective Brett Marquette (left) and Sgt. Mike Lange with the Lake Forest Police Department make plans for the next session of the Citizens Police Academy, which begins Feb. 6. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:13AM
LAKE FOREST — A 10-week Citizens Police Academy class offered by the Lake Forest Police Department each year gives residents a unique inside look at how police fight local crime and work every day to keep the streets of the community safe.
From firing guns in an indoor range to accompanying a police officer on a real-time patrol cruising the streets of Lake Forest, students get hands-on lessons on a variety of law enforcement topics, including crime prevention, narcotics investigations, DUI traffic enforcement and officer hiring and training.
The LFPD began offering the Citizens Police Academy in 1998 as an opportunity for local residents and business owners who work in Lake Forest to get an inside look at police work with the goal of increasing the level of communication between the public and the police.
The program has been met with strong public interest over the years, with several hundred names of Lake Forest residents that have since been added to the Citizens Police Academy list of alumni.
“Many people have misconceptions about law enforcement, and this class aims to dispel the negative things people think about the police,” said Detective Brett Marquette, one of the coordinators of the program. “It gives people a rare look at what officers have to do on their daily routine, and people come away with a greater understanding of how a modern-day law enforcement agency works.”
The program is a collaborative effort among all department officers, who each dedicate time to teach a class about their specific line of work.
Even homicides, which are an uncommon event in Lake Forest, are explored with a presentation led by representatives of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, a collaboration of officers from departments throughout Northern Illinois who work together in the event of a large-scale crime.
“People think nothing happens in a small town, but the truth is it happens everywhere, only less frequently,” Marquette said.
Although men historically have shown a stronger interest in the training than women, Marquette said an increasing number of women have signed up recently.
Lake Forest housewife Rosemary Sermas is one. She took the class on the suggestion of one of her sons.
“My favorite part was learning how to fire a gun, because I’d never done it before,” Sermas said. “All the officers showed up and showed us how to do it — it was pretty awesome.”
Sgt. Mike Lange, one of the Academy’s coordinators, hopes to spur interest in the program.
“The whole goal is to engage the community and foster a positive relationship to enhance our ability to serve,” Lange said. The community, he said, includes residents and non-residents who work in Lake Forest.
“Ideally, I would like to see this grow into an event we can hold two or three times a year,” Lange said.
Citizens Police Academy is free of charge and meets once-a-week on Wednesdays from 7-10 p.m. The next session begins Feb. 6. Participants must be at least 21-years-old and have no criminal record. Participants are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. Maximum enrollment is 20 students per course.
Applications are available at the police department, 255 W. Deerpath, Lake Forest. For more information, contact Marquette at MarquetB@cityoflakeforest.com or Lange at LangeM@cityoflakeforest.com. Both can be reached at (847) 234-2601.