Gurnee Citizen Police Academy

The Gurnee Citizen Police Academy is a 36-hour block of instruction designed to give the public a working knowledge of the practices, policies, and procedures governing the police department. The instruction consists of twelve 3-hour blocks conducted on a weekly basis. Participants must be at least 18 years of age and of good moral character with no felony convictions.

Classes are held each Thursday evening from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm. Anyone interested in attending the 12 week FREE course can obtain an application by contacting Deputy Chief Saundra Campbell at (847) 599-7050 or via email.

Class #27 started on March 3rd, 2016. For the following 13 weeks students in the class shared the duty of writing an article about each class and their experiences. Their writings are below:

Week #11

Apr 29, 2017, 17:10 PM

Week #11 (May 12th, 2016) of the Gurnee CPA Class was devoted to three topics; school resource officers, teen court and street-gang awareness.

School Resource Officers; SRO’s: Officers Ron Conley and Jim Lazaro are two of the four Gurnee officers who are assigned as SRO’s. Officer Conley actually grew up in Gurnee, and attended school in the village from kindergarten through graduation from Warren High School. He has been the Woodland School District #50 SRO for the last 2 school years. Officer Jim Lazaro is assigned as an SRO at the Warren High School Almond Campus.

The SRO program first began in Flint, Michigan in 1953. Today, the responsibilities of the SRO are school safety and emergency response, relationship building and maintaining, and teaching students about the dangers and consequences of a myriad of bad choices such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexting, cyber-bullying, and reckless driving. Both officers indicated that they spend a great deal of their time at the schools making presentations to the students, as well as conducting the school safety drills.

Officer Conley advised the class that when an infraction happens, the SRO is there as a resource for the principal, as he can only take the lead if a criminal act has occurred. Otherwise, the responsibility for disciplinary action defaults to the principal.

Teen court: Officer Lazaro, who’s been a Gurnee police officer for 18 years, and an SRO for two years, shared his experiences as the officer who is assigned to teen court.

Youth are referred to teen court by an arresting officer, and teen courts purpose is to have the offender accept responsibility for their actions. The offender is then give a constructive sentence by a jury of their peers to help repair the harm done to the community.

In order for a juvenile offender to participate in teen court, they must be between the ages of 10 and 17, be involved in a minor crime, admit guilt for their action, and have no prior referral to teen court. In addition, both the offender and parents must agree to participate in the program. The offender must agree to make restitution and have no known gang affiliation.

Some of the offenses that can be handled in teen court are offenses for theft, alcohol and tobacco, simple assault and battery, truancy, telephone and/or e-mail harassment, disorderly conduct, damage to property and cannabis possession.

Officer Lazaro ended his presentation with a video of an actual teen court case from Marin County, California. You could see how serious the members of the jury, also teens themselves, took their responsibilities in the questions they asked of the offender and the scope of the resolution/sentence plan assigned to the offender.

Gang Awareness: Officer Chad Tompoles has a member of the police department for 18 years and also serves as one of the department’s gang officers. He grew up in Lake County, and graduated from Zion-Benton High School.

Officer Tompoles began his presentation by advising the class that when the officers encounter an individual or individuals who have been identified as a documented gang member, they are not to question them directly about their gang affiliation. This restriction seemed very counter-intuitive to many members of the class.

He then gave the class information on the gangs that are present in Lake County, and that most are members of two nations, folk or people. There are also members of street gangs who do not affiliate with either the folks or people nations.

Officer Tompoles challenged the class to identify the gang behind a series of pictures of actual graffiti. Even though the class had just been given the general identifiers, it was very difficult in some cases to identify the gang involved. Luckily, one of the class members had a great deal of knowledge about the local gangs, and could help out the rest of the class.

Week #12 (05/19/16) will focus on firearms training.

Deb (and Tim) Dineen – Current CPA Board Secretary