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Civilian police academy in Syracuse to show public what officers go through

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Syracuse police during "Law Enforcement Appreciation Week" in 2015.

The Syracuse Police Department is holding a civilian police academy to expose the public to the challenges of being a police officer. It comes after a tense year for police officers and communities in Syracuse and across the country.

Several Black Lives Matter protests were held in Syracuse in 2016 demanding more independent oversight, accountability and demilitarization of police.

Syracuse Police Department Detective Mark Rusin said the civilian police academy is meant to start an open dialogue, to clear up misunderstandings and to give people a glimpse at policing.

"We'll have some conversations about some different topics that become critical in policing," Rusin said. "But then it will be some scenario-based training or reality-based training, where the attendees will put on some safety gear that is mandated for whatever scenario they are going through and they will have some exposure to different scenarios."

The sessions will include lectures and video analysis.

“Interactions with the police department and the community help to build community relations," Rusin said. "Building community relations builds legitimacy in the police department. It’s critical. It's exposure too for the police officers that do training to work with and meet members of the community to facilitate some dialogue.”  

One part of that training will be to show the decision making process officers have to go through in life threatening situations.

Three separate incidents in 2016 required Syracuse police officers to use deadly force. The officers were all cleared of any wrongdoing by Onondaga County grand juries.    

Rusin says the training will cover the concepts officers face in such a scenario without talking about specific incidents.

“It’s a critical component as to what visual cues, verbal cues, professional training cues does an officer have, that they can use to go into their decision making to use deadly physical force, or to not use it,” Rusin said.

Rusin said he expects about 40 people including community leaders will attend the ten-hour training over three days in January.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.