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City of Santa Maria’s Citizen Police Academy

Case Story

The City of Santa Maria has operated a “Citizen Police Academy” since 1994. According to training coordinator Chrissy Alvarez, participants learn about drugs and crime lab investigations, shoot at a target range, discuss gang activity with the gang unit, and even get the opportunity to ride along with an on-duty police officer. The idea is to combat misconceptions about police and police practices and to develop community liaisons for the department. In recent years, the program has been expanded to include a separate Spanish language course.

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