The Grove Citizens' Police Academy begins Thursday, September 11th, and there is still time to register.

The academy is an opportunity for area residents to gain an understanding of police activities.

Free to the public, the 10 week program covers communications and the 911 system; building searches; drug enforcement and D.A.R.E information; vehicle stops; local, state, and federal laws, and crime scene investigation.

Classes meet once a week for three hours during the evening.

Standard police procedures, rules and the law are all explained in detail, and citizens have the chance to participate in mock situations such as traffic stops and domestic abuse calls.

The purpose of the academy is to break down barriers between police officers and the general public.

“This program is a really good way for us to connect with the community,” said Grove Police Chief Mark Morris.

Goals of the academy include: to improve the general understanding of policing among the citizens of Grove; to educate citizens about the abilities and limitations of the police department and its officers, and to provide citizens with a perspective of the police community, thereby enabling citizens to make a more informed judgment about law enforcement.

Graduates of the program may become active in the Grove Citizens' Police Academy Alumni Association. Members of the association work on many different projects within the community including the Amber Alert Program, Bicycle Safety Education, fundraising for special needs not included in the police budget, Safe House Promotion, Youth Police Academy, the Annual Grove P.D. Awards Banquet, and Women's Self Defense.

In addition, graduates may take an advanced class and join Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), to become even more active in the department.

“VIPS save countless overtime hours for the police department,” explained Morris. “They are extremely reliable and they perform tasks that would prevent officers from spending more time on patrol, which allows officers to answer higher priority calls.”

Established in 2005, VIPS currently has 12 active members, all senior citizens.

“We work five days a week, two to three hours per day,” said VIPS President Roy Rott.

He added that three times a year VIPS, in conjunction with the Citizens' Police Academy, does special fundraising events.

“All our support efforts are funded by volunteer contributions from the community,” he said.

In addition to their other duties, the VIPS patrol also enforces handicapped parking at Wal-Mart and other area businesses.

Citizens who are interested in attending Grove Citizens' Police Academy, which is set to start September 11th, may contact the Grove Police Department at 786-6121 or Roy Rott at 786-5676.