Mundelein Citizens Police Academy a win-win
Mundelein Deputy Chief John Monahan throws candy from the Citizens Police Academy float during last week's Homecoming parade. Seated academy alumni are Karen Schuman and Kay Dickman. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Have you attended a welcome-home event for a troop in your community?
The fall Citizens Police Academy session, geared more toward seniors, begins Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Del Web Community Center, 3555 Grand Dominion Circle, Mundelein. Classes run through Nov. 27. There is no charge. To apply , call Jennifer Marshall at (847) 968-3770. Participants do not need to be a resident of Mundelein or Del Webb.
Updated: September 20, 2012 8:28AM
MUNDELEIN — Senior Citizen Volunteer of 2011 Kay Dickman became a widow at a young age and spent most of her years working as a single mother. Dickman, now 74, didn’t have time then to give back to the community, which she said had always been a regret.
Four and a half years ago, Dickman read about a program in the newspaper offering interactive classes for seniors with the Mundelein Police Department and immediately called the station for information.
“I should have done this years ago!” she said.
In 1996, the Mundelein Police Department started a free 10-week Senior and Citizens Police Academy to allow residents to become familiar with the day-to-day operations of the MPD. Participants gain a better understanding of the procedures, guidelines, responsibilities, demands, personnel, equipment policies and laws that guides department decisions.
Interest in the program remains strong, and many who attend have returned for future sessions.
“I’ve done things that I never thought I would have done,” Dickman said. “I’ve fired a Glock and I love when they take us to play paintball.”
The hour-and-a-half-long classes are offered once a week in the spring at the Mundelein Police Department and in the fall at Del Webb in Mundelein. The fall session is geared toward subjects that may be of more interest to seniors.
“We’re opening our home to you,” said Class Coordinator Officer Dan Gorski. “It’s great to see what we do and how we do it. Participants come to respect what we do, even though it isn’t always pleasant, and they support us because they realize we’re people, too.”
Gorski began teaching this past spring and said the subjects are always changing because there are many repeat attendees and they want to keep it new and exciting.
Gorski said he’ll cover topics such as identity theft, gang violence, drug education and K-9 demonstrations. Gorski encourages participants to go on a ride-along with an officer on different shifts, exposing them to such matters as drunken driving arrests and neighbor disputes.
Attendees also take a field trip to a court room to sit in on a sentencing and have the opportunity to speak with a circuit court judge about their civic duties and the legal process. Gorski said he hopes to have an Investigator’s Module for the fall session. Participants would go through the steps of investigating a crime scene and learn such things as the importance of blood spatter, physical evidence and photography.
Mundelein Deputy Chief John Monahan is a former class instructor. He said the academies continue to be popular with an average class size of about 40 participants. The program boasts approximately 1,000 graduates over the years, with 600 from the Senior Academy and 400 from the Citizens Academy.
“This is a great way for the police department to connect with the community on a personal level and clarify any perceptions they may have,” Monahan said.
The final week of the academy is graduation, in which participants who complete the program receive their certificate and a white polo shirt with the village logo on it.
Graduation is not the end of the line, however. The program can be taken by individuals as many times as desired, and graduates are free to join the Mundelein Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
The association has an email list of 85 with an active member count of about 20 people.
Dickman is the association treasurer and said it’s a great way to continue to stay involved.
“These officers are not just a badge and the association is a great way to stay connected to them and assist in charity events that aid the police department and the community,” she said.
The Alumni Association will host its annual spaghetti dinner and silent auction from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30, after the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.