WARREN - James Lalaman II said he only planned to attend the city Weed and Seed's Citizen Police Awareness Academy for six hours to earn the credit he needed for his career search class.
However, the 15-year-old Howland High School sophomore explained that he enjoyed the program so much that he wanted to see it through to graduation.
"I already had an interest in police work," he said. "This really enhanced that. It's definitely a career path I'm looking at."
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, center, talks to graduates of the Weed and Seed’s Citizen Police Awareness Academy on Thursday in City Council Chambers. With him are Tina Milner, with Weed and Seed, and police Detective Geoff Fusco.
On Thursday, Lalaman was among a group of area residents to complete the course and graduate. They received their certificates during a ceremony in Warren City Council Chambers.
Lalaman said that before he took the course he didn't realize how specific police policies and procedures are.
"There are so many policies you have to follow and so many things you have to do," he said. "There are all these loopholes and you have to be careful not to do something that will jeopardize your case or the work you do."
Warren Weed and Seed's Citizen Police Awareness Academy
Applications: Warren Police Station, 141 South St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or at warren.org
Lalaman's class was the fifth and largest to graduate, explained Tina Milner, executive director of Weed and Seed, a neighborhood anti-crime program.
"I am so proud of these citizens for their desire and willingness to be part of this, for their desire to be involved in the community and desire to be part of the solution," Milner said.
The Warren Police Department resumed the program in November and plans to offer another session in two weeks. Milner said eight-week classes will run through spring, then resume again next fall after a summer break.
The course is designed to give citizens an inside view of the day-to-day operations of the police department, explained Warren police Detective Geoffrey Fusco.
"It lets you see how we do our jobs," he said. "Once people see that, they get a better understanding why things are done in a certain way."
Classes are held once a week at the Warren Police Department Roll Call Room.
Topics include police policies and procedures, the Fourth Amendment and how it applies to searches, deadly force, crime prevention techniques, firearms training in a simulator officers use, and ride-alongs with city police.
Nine of the 12 individuals graduating with the fifth class attended Thursday's ceremony. Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, along with Milner and Fusco, presented the certificates to the graduates.
Graduate Dennis Alexander, 63, a lifelong Warren resident active in the Garfield Neighborhood Association, said he just wanted to find out about the inner workings of the police department. He said he especially appreciated the experience he had with the firearms simulator.
"It's a whole different world when you realize you have to make a split second decision," he said. "You realize appreciate the pressure on a police officer at any given moment. It's a responsibility to realize people re looking to you to sort out the chaos and make the right decisions in any situation."
Applications for the academy are available to Warren city residents at the police station, 141 South St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m or on the City of Warren's website, warren.org. For more information, call 330-841-2788.