CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The police are looking for you, but there's no reason to hide.
The Champaign County Citizen Police Academy is accepting applications for its citizen workshops, in which residents have the opportunity to meet police officers and learn about law-enforcement procedures.
"You see so much on television [about police officers] and most of the time it's a bad example," said Lois Welling, an administrative assistant at the Police Training Institute. "We want to show what it's really like to be a police officer."
The 10-week CPA will meet Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Police Training Institute, 1004 S. Fourth St. Sessions begin March 2 and end May 4.
Topics covered include community-based policing, drugs, gangs, domestic violence, DUI enforcement, citizen-police contacts, police use of force and firearms safety. Additionally, participants will tour the Champaign County Jail, METCAD - the local 911 services - and have the opportunity to do a ride-along with a patrol officer.
All law-enforcement departments in Champaign County, including the University of Illinois Police, are involved in the academy.
Bill Riley, dean of students and associate vice chancellor for student affairs at the UI, was in one of the first groups to go through the academy, which began in 1994.
"My job relates to police officers and law enforcement in a number of ways," Riley said. "[The academy] is important because citizens have a good chance to learn how police are getting trained, what resources they have, and what their attitude is."
Anyone interested in applying to the CPA should contact Welling at