LHPD wants Spanish speakers for Citizens’ Academy


La Habra police are looking to sign up residents interested in joining the Spanish-language Citizens’ Academy and continue this innovative program that has improved relations with the city’s large Latino community.

The academy is scheduled to begin on Sept. 2 and was the first of its kind in the county, when it launched. It is slated to run for six weeks on Tuesdays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is facilitated by Corp. Jose Rocha and Sgt. Dave Crivelli, both of whom volunteer their time, as do the other department personnel who serve as instructors for the course.

Rocha said the academy is modeled after the long-running English-speaking model that has existed for years in La Habra.

Spanish Academy Grads

Members of the Spanish-language Citizens’ Academy with LHPD Chief Jerry Price and other officers.

“It has been very successful,” Rocha said. “Many of the academy participants come from countries where they are very distrustful of law enforcement.”

The academy allows the attendees to see officers in a different light and, in turn, they are more likely to call for service now.

“The Citizens’ Academy is a rewarding experience for our department personnel, helping to connect us with the folks we serve and gives the participants an insider’s point of view of what it is like to be a police officer, a better understanding of the systems in place, and closes the gap between us and the community,” Rocha said. “It has been an honor to be a part of the program and I hope it continues to improve our positive partnership between our community members and the La Habra Police Department.”

Academy participants get an overview of the SWAT and K9 teams, the Investigations and Records divisions, Communications, Traffic, Animal Services and the court system.

During the academy, a member of the District Attorney’s office presents in Spanish to teach attendees about the justice system.

Attendees also get to do some role playing as officers with police Explorers serving as actors.

“It gives them an idea of what it is like to do a call for service,” Rocha said.

There is still room to sign up for the upcoming academy. Those interested can contact Corp. Rocha or Sgt. Crivelli at 562-383-4300 or via email at jrocha@lahabraca.gov.

Contact the writer at tdodero@behindthebadgeoc.com