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Chicago police give people peek into the job

  • John Hroma, a member of the Chicago Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, discusses police work in front of an armored SWAT vehicle July 16, 2013 in Chicago (Rachel Cromidas/RedEye).
John Hroma, a member of the Chicago Police Department's Special Weapons…
July 17, 2013|By Rachel Cromidas, @rachelcromidas | RedEye

How do you handcuff someone who is resisting arrest? (It's not easy.) How tall should police horses be? (15.2 hands.) Where do Chicago's police dogs come from? (The Czech Republic, via Pittsburgh.) These are among the lessons being taught at the police department's Chicago Police Academy this summer.

The academy, created by CPD to give Chicagoans a crash course on police work, is running from June 4 to July 30, at the police force's West Loop training facility. Most of the two-dozen participants joined through their local community policing (CAPS) program, and CPD officials say they will be opening up more spots for a new class in the fall.

Tuesday afternoon, teams of officers from the city's bike, canine, mounted, and marine patrol units, and the SWAT team, joined students in a parking lot just south of Soldier Field to give them a rundown of how each unit functions. They also showed off their gear, including wetsuits, bike sirens and an armored military vehicle with a ramp capable of reaching an airplane hatch.

Mark Mora, the administrative assistant to the CAPS commander, said any effort to acquaint Chicagoans with the police force can benefit the city, particularly in the wake of the 2012 NATO protests in the Loop, where many Chicagoans saw police in action in the national media.

"This gives regular citizens an overview of all the facets of the police department," he said. "It's not all about what you see in the movies."

Anette Cain, 53, of West Pullman, said the program has not only helped her understand police operations better, but also allowed her to talk through community police strategies with officers that could benefit her district.

"I was just asking them if bike patrol could come to our community," she said while chatting up two bike patrol officers. "I think that it would help with the guys standing on the corners, you know, just that police presence alone helps. When they're there, we feel safe; if we don't see them, we don't feel safe."

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