6:59 am | October 18, 2013
With a gusty â€œViva!â€ Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez led the crowd of over 100 in a cheer to celebrate the graduation of the first-ever Spanish-language Citizen Police Academy class at the police heliport Thursday evening.
Among the friends and family gathered with police officers from various operational sections were the 52 graduates of the informative, twelve-week classroom series that gives an inside look at Pasadena Police operations.
â€œIn the history of the organization [this is] the first time we have put on a Spanish academy to inform the Latino community,â€ Sanchez said. â€œThey are a very proud, very gracious, very engaged community and this a vehicle to keep them connected to their police department.â€
The Citizen Police Academy â€œen EspaÃ±olâ€ covered a wide variety of subject areas including police communications, criminal law and procedures (laws of arrest), street crime enforcement / investigations, field identification, weaponless defense training, youth programs and more.
The heliport event was staged in a hanger next to a shiny blue helicopter. Police officers spoke to the crowd in Spanish and answered questions in an atmosphere that combined the seriousness of the topics with warmth and humor.
A four-legged officer (police service dog Figo) and his handler Officer Steve Arcand staged a demonstrations of Figo’s drug-sniffing and take-down talents, to the crowd’s delight.
Graduates were awarded certificates, often to cheers from family members in the crowd. The grads posed for photographs with Chief Sanchez, Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls , the Community Services Section’s Lt. Ed Calatayud , Commander John Perez and Commander Lisa Rosales.
â€œChief Sanchez had a vision that we reach out to the Spanish-speaking community,â€ explains Sergeant Bobby Lomelli. â€œWe felt that there was a disconnect with a large portion of the community because of the language and we felt that there was a need .â€
Lomelli said the response from the Latino community was â€œoverwhelming.â€
â€œEveryone was enthusiastic. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of people who attended the first night,â€ he recalls. â€œOur greatest challenge initially was in getting people in the Police Department who speak Spanish and who can give a presentation on their topic of expertise. However, it turned out very well.â€
For more information about the Pasadena Police Dept.’s Citizen Police Academy, call the Community Services Section at (626) 744-4551 or visit http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/police/citizen_police_academy/