Citizen Academy: An inside look at Gulfport Police Dept.

Citizen Academy: An inside look at Gulfport Police Dept.
Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania greets community members attending the "Citizen Academy." (Source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If you're curious about how Gulfport Police Department works, Police Chief Leonard Papania is now giving you the chance to get a behind-the-scenes look. Gulfport Police is hosting a "Citizen Academy" for concerned citizens who want to learn more about the inner workings of the police department.

Chief Papania said the goal is to get the community more engaged to help keep the city safer.

Gulfport resident Teresa Gatpatan said she already helps keep an eye on her area of the city but can't wait to learn more.

"When you have to depend on them, you need to know them. You need to know your neighborhood, take what you learn from this class to the neighborhood watch, and be able to help them out," said Gatpatan. "I'm retired now and I'm home in Orange Grove, so I look out for all my neighbors because a lot of them still work, so I'm on it."

The spring training class will teach community members about all aspects of police operations, including criminal law, K-9, emergency response and crime scene processing.

Magdelena Holland with the Harrison County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program says her aim is to keep seniors safe.

"I'm hoping this program here will help me in my job by educating my seniors and finding out new ways to help people in our community," said Holland. "We do a lot of training on disaster preparedness for seniors, active shooter, and scams, things like that. So, hopefully, I can get some more."

Anyone who lives or works in Gulfport is encouraged to attend the free classes. All attendees must be over the age of 18 and have no prior felony convictions. Applications for the program are available on the Gulfport Police web site.

The training class is underway now and will run through May on Thursday evenings. The next session will be held in the fall from September to November, during the same dates and times.

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