Kent Police Academy a ‘fascinating experience’

Rachel Hagenbaugh

The Kent City Police Department will begin its second 12-week academy in February for residents interested in learning about the realities of police work.

“The goal is to educate folks,” Administrative Lt. Paul Canfield said. “Our job is a lot different than what people might see in the media.”

The Kent Citizens Police Academy is free and offered to residents of the Kent community. Canfield said the first academy had a variety of participants, but he’d like to see students get involved this time.

“It’s important for students because there’s a lot of negativity about police officers,” said Judy Nelson, payroll clerk at Kent State University, who participated in the academy.

There are a lot of situations where students and officers interact, Nelson said. It would be beneficial for students to form a bond with police officers and understand how difficult their job is.

The academy will also help students understand the laws, Nelson said. There are a lot of misunderstandings about citizens’ rights. During the academy, officers explain the laws and what procedures they have to follow.

Canfield said one of the sessions would explain the goals of a field sobriety test.

“Citizens think as long as they do this or that, they can’t be arrested,” he said. “That’s not the case.”

Participants will learn about criminal law, OVI enforcement and K9 units. They will also take a tour of the police department and go on a “ride along” with a police officer.

Nelson said she enjoyed every evening she was there, but the K9 presentation was her favorite experience.

“They brought them into our meeting area, did demonstrations and showed us what they were capable of,” she said.

The officers also took citizens to the shooting range and practiced with their weapons.

Kent Citizens Police Academy

When: Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. for 12 weeks

Cost: Free


• Must be a member of the Kent community

• At least 18-years-old

• Not applying for a law enforcement job. Students studying law enforcement are welcome.

• No felony record or pending misdemeanors.

• Participation with prior misdemeanors is on a case-by-case basis.

For more information contact Lt. Canfield: (330) 676-7505, [email protected]

Apply at

“I watch NCIS, and they go to this fancy shooting range with electronic equipment,” Nelson said. “That’s not what it’s really like.”

Roger Thurman, owner of Thurman Guitar & Violin Repair in Kent, said he witnessed an arrest during his “ride along” session. He stood behind the headlights of the police car while the officer approached the man, who was driving under the influence of alcohol. Thurman said the officer warned him to leave the scene if the situation got violent.

Thurman learned it’s a lengthy process to become a police officer because they deal with high-stress situations.

“I thought they just had to pass the police academy,” he said, “but there’s a lot more to it than that.”

After passing the police academy, officers in training must take a personality test, interview with members of the department and meet with a psychologist, who will determine if they are mentally fit to be a police officer.

Thurman said he enjoyed the program, but there is one thing he would change. He said he thinks it would be beneficial to have two “ride along” sessions, one each at the start and end of the academy.

“It will give people a chance to see how much they learned from the beginning of the course to the end,” he said.

Clifford Bliss, 65, of Kent, said the experience he had visiting Kent Municipal Court was “quite valuable.”

One session discussed what happens at the courthouse, but Bliss was unable to attend. The police chief allowed him to reschedule his missed session at the courthouse, instead of the police station. He was allowed to observe trials and talk with a city prosecutor, judge and officers.

“It was a nice follow up to see what police do after they arrest someone and fill out the paperwork,” Bliss said.

He suggested adding his experience to the curriculum. However, trials usually take place Thursday mornings, which is a difficult time for people to come, Bliss said.

The officers are moving a couple sessions around to make the second academy flow better, Canfield said. He also plans to allow more time for K9 demonstrations.

The citizens weren’t the only ones who learned something from this experience. Canfield said he got a lot of feedback about how the average person perceives police work.

“We’re looking to present our side of the story, get to know the community and let them know us,” Canfield said.

It’s important for people to understand what they have to deal with, Thurman said. If they do something right, people say, “It’s their job.” If a situation doesn’t turn out the way a citizen thought it should, the officers get blamed for it.

“It’s a side of the story worth understanding,” Thurman said.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].