People with a yen to learn more about law-enforcement can sign up for a police academy in Iowa City. Police Sergeant Mike Lord says it’s for civilians, not those ready to train for a job as a professional officer. It’s designed for citizens, to get a fuller picture of what’s involved in law enforcement.

At previous academies, the department’s gotten a range of citizens attending, from high-schoolers up to retired senior citizens. They come for a variety of reasons — to get a better idea what goes on in law-enforcement, if they’re exploring a career in the field, and even some who are considering a career in public office and want to get a better picture of what goes on.

While “academy” sounds like a classroom experience, the sergeant says participants will all have a chance to ride along in a squad car with an officer who’s on duty. It’s actually a requirement — people who take part in the academy will take a ride-along with an officer on the shift they prefer, with someone in any of the agencies that take part in the academy.

Another reason people might take the course is to find a way they could volunteer with the police department. A number of volunteers work in the records section doing computer data entry. Others work in communication, not handling the radio or anything like that but staffing a front desk that’s the first “point of contact” between citizens and the department.

Participating agencies in the citizen police academy include University of Iowa Police Department, as well as police agencies from Coralville and Iowa City, and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff says it’s just one of many staged by law-enforcement agencies around the state, and people interested can contact their own law-enforcement center. Registration’s underway now, though the academy begins in January.