Apr 19, 2009

‘Hey, we eat doughnuts too!’

Today's NY Times has an article discussing a law enforcement community education program for seniors in Newark.  [We seem to be a bit obsessed with Newark recently -- forgive us.  There are so many interesting things happening there.]

Apparently, many police departments nationally have set up citizen police academies targeted to seniors, with the intention to better inform a segment of the population that is often deeply rooted in a community.  As Captain Susan Cole, the program's coordinator, says, “Seniors are home during the day, they see a lot, they’re staples in their community ... They know a lot of people. They are the eyes and ears who can assist the Police Department.”

In addition to more traditional activities like ride-alongs with officers on patrol, the seniors also undergo firearms training.  Indeed, the story opens with a description of an elderly woman shooting down an attacker in a simulated computer scenario -- while her targets weren't live, her gun was real. [When the woman pulls the trigger on the gun, the simulator registers whether the shot was a successful hit.]

Urban law enforcement entities are perennially interested in finding ways of connecting with the communities that they police outside of pure enforcement situations.  Is this a good way of doing so?  What kind of results could you imagine in your own communities with this kind of a program?