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Citizen Police Academy Begins

In this weekly series, I'll go behind the scenes of the Burr Ridge Police Department with the Citizen Police Academy.

How many times has this happened to you: While stopped at a red light, the cars lining up behind you, a police car turns on its sirens and conveniently by-passes you and all the traffic, just to turn their sirens off after crossing through the intersection.

It's happened to me, it's happened to you and we all shake our heads in disgust at this clear abuse of power. But from what I learned at the Citizen Police Academy, turns out we had it wrong - it's all about the element of surprise, not just because police officers don't want to sit in traffic.

Tonight was the first night of a 10-week community class on what our officers in blue do at the Burr Ridge Police Department—and I couldn't have been more excited. This is the closest I've come to my childhood dream of being a police officer. It never came to be, due to my adulthood dream of being a writer suddenly materializing.

Nevertheless, about 12 other interested residents and I went downtown to attend the Citizen Police Academy and learn more about the business of being a police officer. One of the interesting facts we learned was that the officers don't want to let the bad guys know they're coming—so they turn the siren off and on when needed, even if it's to speed through an intersection.

Our night also included a tour of the cramped department they've been in since the mid-'80s. The new department headquarters, which publicly opens Sept. 19, accommodates the department's 28-sworn officers and four support staff that the current location just can't fit. Case in point: Corners of their interviewing room double as storage space for spare equipment. Officer Angie Zucchero, our instructor for the program, said that this has been a common practice at the crowded police department.  

Since the interviewing room is used more for storage than putting the bad guys in the hot seat, one can only guess how busy the department is. Officer Zucchero said that Burr Ridge is pretty quiet when it comes to crime and illegal behavior. On average, the department receives about 12,000 calls per year. So far this year, they've received about 10,200. Many calls come from house alarms - including alarms that were accidentally and not-so-accidentally set off. There was also a string of theft in the parking lot at Lifetime Fitness that the officers have been monitoring. 

I'm looking forward to next week when we get a tour of the new police facilities and learn more about the department's record collections.

Nick Swedberg October 01, 2010 at 06:46 PM
Cool column idea! Looking forward to checking this out every week.

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