First class graduates from Central Falls PD Citizens Police Academy

The graduates of the Central Falls Police Department's Citizens Police Academy, with Police Chief James Mendonca, Mayor James Diossa, members of the City Council and the police department's Community Service Unit. (Photo courtesy: City of Central Falls)

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) – Ten citizens, most hailing from Central Falls, graduated from the department’s first Citizens Police Academy Wednesday night after an eight-week course that taught them about the various facets of police work.

One of the goals of the class was to familiarize members of the public and media with police work in a year in which 131 law enforcement and correctional officers have been killed in the United States. Citing the Officer Down Memorial Page, Officer Nicholas DiCarlo said Wednesday that 33 officers had died in the line of duty nationwide in just the eight weeks that the class ran.

“The Citizens Police Academy program was implemented as part of the Central Falls Police Department’s unceasing endeavor to foster a better working relationship with the community we serve,” Police Chief Col. James Mendonca said.

The program began in late September and met Wednesday nights at police headquarters. Topics covered included DUI enforcement, patrol operations, traffic stops, domestic violence, police use of force, detective work and K9 operations. Participants were also invited to ride along with a police officer for a patrol shift.

Officers Paul Savoie, Nicholas DiCarlo, and William Orellana of the Central Falls Police Department's Community Service Unit. (WPRI photo)
Officers Paul Savoie, Nicholas DiCarlo, and William Orellana of the Central Falls Police Department’s Community Service Unit. (WPRI photo)

Mayor James Diossa, Chief Mendonca, and City Council President Bob Ferri gave brief remarks Wednesday and presented the participants with certificates of completion and commemorative challenge coins.

The department ran a citizens academy about ten years ago but decided to start fresh since so much time had passed; Mendonca plans to hold an academy every fall, likely expanding the length by a few weeks in order to more thoroughly cover some topics. Information on how to sign up will be provided on the department’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

“It is just one aspect of our agency’s community policing initiative, along with our resolve to advance procedural justice – both procedural justice and community policing were emphasized in the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” Mendonca said. “The result of this program, and others, we hope, will be renewed public confidence.”

The classes were taught by the three members of the department’s Community Service Unit, Officers Nicholas DiCarlo, William Orellana, and Paul Savoie. Mendonca modeled the unit on the community policing strategies of the Boston Police Department, with which the officers visited last year as part of their training, and the unit is tasked with building stronger relationships with Central Falls residents to combat neighborhood crime.