By Mike Kinney
High school seniors aren’t the only graduates in Richmond this week.
On Monday, 25 city residents were celebrated at City Hall for graduating from the Richmond Police Department’s Community Safety Academy.
During a ceremony in City Council Chambers, the locals were hailed for attending an 8-week, 40-hour course where they learned various police disciplines, including community policing, use of force options, de-escalation tactics, K9 handline, case filing and crime prevention, among others.
They even got to ride on a Richmond police boat.
These residents are now recognized as Community Safety Ambassadors for the Police Department, which has gained national acclaim in recent years for its community policing strategies that have reduced overall crime. The grads are now tasked with sharing and spreading what they’ve learned among their neighbors.
“This program is our way to better engage with our community, to forge a better relationship that encompasses the core values of community policing,” Tan said. “The goal of this class is so they can become our police department’s ambassador for the community. That way they can spread what they learn, and hopefully that will multiply.”
Gretchen Blais, 80, of Atchison Village, said she joined the Academy as a way to become more involved in her city.
“What it did for me is help me understand what community policing is, and also to understand and sense the passion for the police department’s approach to community policing,” Blais said.
About 85 people attended the ceremony, including family members, friends and numerous officers from the RPD, including Chief Allwyn Brown and City Manager Bill Lindsay.
Welcome remarks and introductions were delivered by Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan, Lindsay, Brown, and Class Speaker Steve Torres. Presentation of Certificates was carried out by Chief Brown, Lt. Tan and Lt. Timothy Simmons.