The Solon Police Department’s Citizens Academy graduated its 19th class earlier this month with a group of 13 citizens who now have a greater understanding of the department’s myriad of activities. 

For one of those graduates, it may also turn into a part-time job.

According to Solon Police Public Information Officer Lt. Bill Vajdich, the Citizens Academy, now with more 400 graduates, has produced a few of the department’s newest auxiliary police officers.

“Although it was not intended for this purpose, the Citizens Academy is the best farm system we have for finding auxiliary police officers.  We have hired one officer out of the last two academy classes and will hire one out of the current class,” said Lt. Vajdich.

According to Sergeant Courtenay Perkins, who serves as a supervisor in the police department’s patrol division and leads the Citizens Academy program, “this course is an effort to build a deeper relationship and understanding between our community and law enforcement. The purpose of the Academy is to increase citizen awareness of the day-to-day operations of the Solon Police Department by educating them on various topics relative to the role of a Police Officer in the City of Solon.”

The class meets from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays for nine consecutive weeks and includes discussions of traffic stops, police training, the use of force, criminal investigations, police dispatch, responding to crimes, OVI (DUI) investigations, criminal law, animal control, the Police K9 unit and firearms training. Participants even take a jail, police station and police vehicle tour.

The most recent group of graduates included five men and eight women, and included a sales executive, a physician, a customer service representative, several school employees, an economic director, and several retirees, according to Sgt. Perkins.  

The only requirements for joining the citizens academy is being over the age of 18, living in Solon or working for the city of Solon and passing a background check. 

After completing the course, some citizens academy graduates have felt inspired to do more than just learn. That’s where the auxiliary police officer role comes in. 

“We talk about the importance of auxiliary officers supporting our commissioned police officers, for things like traffic control, event security, or subbing as crossing guards. We really use them at our summer time events, so that our police officers can concentrate on security roles, and keeping the community safe,” said Lt.Vajdich.

He added that in Solon, an auxiliary officer is a part time officer who does not carry a firearm, is not commissioned or sworn in. They also do not have to attend the 17-week police officer training program, to be hired.  They are paid as a part time employee at the rate of $14.75 an hour.

“It really is a great part-time job. In other communities, auxiliary officers are not paid, but in Solon they are,” he added. “For those who work a traditional job, we can plug you in on evenings and weekends.”

Auxiliary police officers need to be available weekends and holidays, able to get around Solon quickly, and be familiar with the community itself. 

As for the Citizens Academy graduates, they have a leg up on the competition as they already know how the Solon Police Department operates.

For those who are interested in joining the next class of the Citizens Academy, it is set for Fall 2022. Email Sgt. Perkins at cperkins@solonohio.org to enroll.

And when the 20th class of the academy is complete, there might just be a couple more graduates inspired to join the city’s auxiliary police force.

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