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Ohio State’s Community Police Academy offers inside look at OSUPD

Classes offer opportunity for police and university members to learn more about each other

From building searches to traffic stops to caring for casualties, participants in the Ohio State University Police Division Community Police Academy get a real-world taste of an OSUPD officer’s job responsibilities.

The Community Police Academy is a free, four-week program designed to give university community members an idea of what it’s like to protect and serve on campus.

OSUPD Detective Cassi Shaffer leads the instruction of the program and says the academy offers university police another opportunity to listen to students, faculty and staff and learn firsthand about the issues that matter to the community.

“It’s important so that when we’re out among society, they see us. And it’s not the first time they’ve seen us, it’s not the first time they’ve met us, and they can understand where we’re coming from, and we understand where they’re coming from,” said OSUPD Officer Tom Schneider. “I think that community building is one of the building blocks of having a positive environment and a quality police agency.”

Each session consists of weekly classes at Blankenship Hall, where participants discuss OSUPD programs, policies and procedures. The comprehensive instruction includes open discussion and role playing.

Students participated in scenarios that mimicked police traffic stops, learned some basic first aid lessons and navigated a final class experience that combined what they’ve learned into one simulation.

For Destiny Witten, a first-year sociology major, the class helped her understand what it’s like to be a first responder. Witten wants to serve as a paramedic and said some of the scenarios left her more confident in her ability.

“It’s good to have this program, so people know just in case [something bad] happens, I know how to deal with it if I’m in that situation,” she said. “This is a good opportunity to learn.”

John Corless, a university marketing analytics coordinator, comes from a family with a long history in law enforcement, which drove his interest in participating in the academy.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn just how the state of policing has changed from the time my grandfather donned the badge to where we’re at in today’s society,” he said.

Corless said it’s valuable for OSUPD to offer the class to interact with the community and to challenge some misperceptions about the job police officers do.

“I think the biggest thing is to build that engagement with the folks within the Ohio State community,” he said. “I think it’s good for the members of the OSUPD to set some of those fallacies straight and really shed an accurate light on what these fine folks do on a day-to-day basis. And, to build that rapport and let people know that there are things you can do as members of the Ohio State community to make their jobs easier and just make OSU a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone.”

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