Johnson County Law Enforcement is running a four-week program providing insight into policing

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An Iowa City police officer carries a video camera as he patrols the pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City in 2013. (File Photo/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A four-week program led by local law enforcement seeks to give residents a better understanding of policing, while sharing information about available resources.

The “Behind the Badge” program will be led by Iowa City and North Liberty police, as well as the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety.

There will also be information from community partners, including the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Rape Victim Advocacy Program and Community Crisis Services, said Daisy Torres, Community Outreach Assistant with Police. of Iowa City.

The program is a shorter version of the 10-week Citizen Police Academy, which is not taking place this year due to COVID-19 and staffing issues at regional agencies, Torres said.

During weekly three-hour sessions, attendees will learn about K-9 Officers, Bomb Squad, Special Response Team, and Crisis Response.

Law enforcement agencies in the region will also share information about their respective initiatives and programs, Torres said.

“You just have to show people that there are lots of ways to do things, and we’re doing our best to make sure it’s a holistic approach,” Torres said.

It’s the first time a shorter program has been offered, Torres said. She added that if all goes well, he can potentially be added in the fall to complete the Citizen Police Academy, which usually takes place in the spring.

“Maybe watching is something reasonable and maybe not as long as CPA,” Torres said. “Can we offer this in the fall as maybe an opportunity for those who haven’t been admitted to CPA or maybe want a different taste because traditionally CPA doesn’t include community partners.”

Prior to the pandemic, Torres said attending the police academy was going well. The group enrolled in the academy in 2020 reached the maximum of 50 people but was canceled due to the pandemic, she said.

The four-week program has 25 places available for those who are interested. Participants will be selected on a first come, first served basis.

“Participation has definitely increased but obviously it’s stalled, so hopefully we can still provide it even though it’s about half the size of this group,” Torres said.

Torres said some of the takeaways from past academy attendees were that they were unaware of the training officers went through and the resources available in the area.

The course will be held Wednesday evenings starting March 23 at the Joint Emergency Communication Center, 529 Melrose Ave. in Iowa City. The final session on April 13 will be at the User Interface Department of Public Safety, 200 S. Capitol St.

The cost to attend is $10, but the fee may be waived for eligible attendees. Cash or checks payable to the City of Iowa City are accepted.

“We want people to feel invested, but we also don’t want (cost) to be a barrier to participation, so there is a scholarship available if people are eligible,” Torres said.

Applications can be found online at the City of Iowa City’s website and should be mailed or dropped off at the Iowa City Police Department, North Liberty Police Department, or North Liberty Police Department. University of Iowa.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on March 11 to be considered. Successful applicants will be notified by email approximately one week after receipt of their application.

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