CPA brings GTPD and community closer together

Photo by Casey Gomez

Wherever one seems to look on Tech’s campus, police officers reside day and night.

The Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) serves as the campus police department at Tech; it is quite difficult to remain unaware of that fact. As generally open and friendly as the police department already is, GTPD is still working to make their organization more understandable to students and the Atlanta community through programs and events that are engaging and
passionately run.

An example of these programs that intends to breach gaps and connect the local community to the police force is the Citizens Police Academy (CPA).

Officer Jessica Howard of the GTPD Crime Prevention department provided an explanation of what exactly CPA’s coursework entails:

“[It is]a four-week program designed to educate and inform citizens about issues that face campus law enforcement and how GTPD operates,” Howard said.

“The goal is to give a better understanding of Law enforcement while building positive relationships with our campus community,” Howard added, highlighting the importance of communicating and connecting with members of the community.  “Understanding that many individuals have preconceived notions concerning law enforcement, we want to have the opportunity to shine a positive light, while teaching and growing into positive directions.”

The upcoming spring schedule for CPA holds a variety of topics including lessons on investigations, the use of force and firearms, a course on K-9s, emergency preparedness and a judgemental simulator, among many others.

“The academy is designed for participants to gain a better understanding of GTPD functions and policing in general, but I do believe it serves as a learning opportunity that many may be able to use,” Howard said. “One of our sessions allows participants to fire weapons on a range. Although we may not make them out to be expert weapon handlers, we have many participants who have never fired a weapon before and we have the chance to allow them to do so safely in a learning environment.”

The program, which is run during the spring and fall semesters, limits its class size to 12 participants, who can sign up through the registration form at

“We do aim to enlarge [the class size],” Howard said. “We would love to serve more participants per class. Unfortunately, at this time, spacing limitations will not allow us to fit more participants in the class. However, once we move into our building, we’ll have more space and will definitely consider accepting more participants per class.”

“The Citizen’s Police Academy is great — not only will you get a chance to come to a better understanding of Law Enforcement, but also what better way than to have the chance to interact with the law enforcement that serves your community,” Howard continued. “All of the sessions are informative… Interacting with the participants, hearing their stories and making connections with them is what makes the classes more fulfilling to me.”

The CPA program is offered biannually. While it is free of charge, there is a commitment to attend all sessions. CPA is open to all members of the
Tech community.