The next session of the Gurnee Citizen Police Academy has been delayed due to COVID-19 precautions.  For updates on the next session, please continue to check this website or follow us on Facebook for announcements.

Gurnee Citizen Police Academy

The Gurnee Citizen Police Academy is a 33-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 eleven 3-hour blocks conducted on a weekly basis. The week 13 session boasts a brief graduate ceremony.

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.  For more information please contact Education Specialist Tami Martin at (847) 599-7181 or via email.

Class Summary:

Class #27 (March 2016) students wrote a summary of each class. Their writings are below:

  1. Week #13
  2. On May 26, 2016 Class #27 of the Gurnee Citizens Police Academy graduated during a short ceremony held at the Gurnee police station. It began with a welcome to all by Mayor Kovarik, Chief Woodside, and Deputy Chief Willie Meyer.

    Each class member was awarded with congratulatory hardware in the form of a diploma, a custom-printed shirt, and other assorted “bling.”  Students had the opportunity to have their photos taken with Mayor Kovarik, Chief Woodside, and Deputy Chief Meyer.

    Julie Poirier and Deb Dineen, 2 board members of the CPA Alumni Association, gave a brief presentation inviting the graduates to join.  The purpose of the Association is to provide continuing education to graduates as well as provide volunteer services to the police department when needed. Eleven members of the class expressed interest in joining the Association that evening!

    I had the privilege of speaking to some of the graduates about what they enjoyed most about the CPA Class #27.  Vicky stated that she enjoyed seeing the Gurnee police service dogs in action, shooting weapons on the firing range, the ride along with an officer and the 911 center.  Vicky said that she enjoyed meeting all the new people she encountered during the program. 

    Pat said that acting as an officer during the mock traffic stops was a “hoot!”

    Valerie was a fan of the canine demonstration, and said that shooting a rifle was a first for her. Collecting evidence at a mock crime scene was also a new experience for her.

    As a retired nurse, Corinne was especially interested in the drug presentation, as there are so many new types of drugs on the street today. 

    Diane enjoyed learning about the process of becoming a Gurnee police officer, seeing some of their challenges and having the opportunity to act as an officer doing mock traffic stops.  She also enjoyed firing weapons on the range.

    If you are interested in participating in a future Gurnee Citizen Police Academy class please contact Deputy Chief Campbell at (847) 599-7050. As some of the most recent graduates expressed, you will enjoy the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of your police department and her members who live the phrase “Honor – Integrity - Service” each and every day.

    Deb Dineen – Current CPA AA Board Secretary

  3. Week #12
  4. On Thursday evening May 19th I attended the final session of the Gurnee Police CPA. It is in this session where all aspects of “deadly force” are presented. In my opinion, it is the most significant session of all because it places a spotlight on the extreme risk police officers must be prepared to face.

    In a split second an officer must consider the immediate and long-lasting impact of utilizing deadly force. As such, the department provides officers with extensive and ongoing physical and emotional training surrounding the many facets of a deadly force encounter.

    In the classroom setting, students see and hear real life videos from other areas of the U.S where officers have been killed. Officers are put through training simulations where they find themselves in a shoot/don’t shoot scenario. In the department’s training and practice range, officers live-fire pistol, rifle, and shotgun; the firearms officers are authorized and qualified to deploy in the field.

    Among other related topics in the session are:

    • Safety rules for handling weapons: 1) assume any gun is loaded, 2) don’t point a weapon unless you’re willing or needing to shoot, 3) finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and 4) know what your target is and what lies beyond it.
    • The workings and performance of each weapon and ammunition used by the department. We learned a bullet leaving the muzzle of a department-issued rifle does so at an astounding 3,250 feet per second!
    • How an officer can manage the physiological responses he/she can experience to a use of force confrontation.
    • To only use deadly force the thwart deadly force.

    In closing, I believe the weapons session is the most “human,” in that it’s the class where I felt the strongest association directly with the officers. Many of them are young enough for me to be their parent, and they have children that could be my grandchildren. When I see them on duty, and only if it’s feasible, I stop what I’m doing to say hello and thank them for what they do for us. I also make sure to tell them to be careful.

    I think the development of a sense of bonding and support to and for our officers is a big part of what the Gurnee Citizen’s Police Academy accomplishes.

    Week #13, May 26th, 2016, will be class graduation.

    Joe Vetrano, President, Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association

  5. Week #11
  6. 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

  7. Week #10
  8. This week (May 5th, 2016) the Citizens Police Academy class learned all about the myriad of duties performed by community service officers (CSO’s)… and then the class went to the dogs.

    Kathy Reichers-Ronzani provided an entertaining presentation. These unarmed civilian (non-sworn) officers deal with both domestic and wild animals, enforce leash laws, make sure you pick up after your dogs, and generally remind pet owners of their responsibilities as required by village ordinance. They provide enormous support for the law enforcement mission in the village.

    CSO’s will set different kinds of traps to deal with wild creatures. Bear in mind we are talking chipmunks, rabbits, and the occasional opossum. Skunks? Not so much.

    If you have a fender bender on private property the CSO will likely take care of your accident report. They do not issue traffic citations or respond to “in-progress” emergency calls.

    Locked out of your car accidentally? It's a good bet they will be able to rectify that for you. Annually they get a whopping 2,000 drivers back into their vehicles.

    CSO’s provide traffic control for traffic crashes and special events. They’re primarily responsible for the enforcement of village parking ordinances such as fire lanes and improper use of handicapped-designated spaces.

    Around police headquarters they handle the mail, raise and lower flags, and assist in dealing with prisoners. They can also show you the proper way to install a child safety seat. To say they are highly-valued members of the department would be a gross understatement.

    The second half of the class was devoted a demonstration by the Gurnee K-9 officers (hence the ‘went to the dogs’ comment above).

    Officers Phil Mazur and Daniel Ruth and their dogs Hunter and Bear provided an interesting insight into this component of the department. Both are German Shepherds with blood lines going back to Germany. Each are approximately 3 years old.

    The handlers and their dogs go through ongoing intensive training covering obedience, dealing with physical obstacles, handler protection, tracking possible suspects, cadavers, and searching out narcotics. The dogs are extremely effective for crowd control and the apprehension of suspects when needed.

    The handlers gave us an actual demonstration and we saw for ourselves how effective the dogs are at sniffing out narcotics and subduing suspects. They are both amazing animals and an enormous asset to law enforcement in Gurnee and throughout our region.

    Week #11 (05/12/16) will focus on the school resource officer and teen court programs, along with a block on gang enforcement.

    Gordon Hannan-Vice President Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association

  9. Week #9
  10. This week (April 28, 2016) the Citizens Police Academy learned all about the records division and drug paraphernalia.

    Records: Heather Collins is one of the five employees within the records division. Heather is actually a CPA graduate. After attending the course several years ago, she decided she wanted to join the Gurnee police team! Heather was recognized as the Civilian of the Year by the police department in 2013.

    Each person in records train for 6-12 months as there is much to learn, and there is continual learning throughout ones career. There are over 50,000 case files in the office; covering a time span of 2010 to today. Because of this high number the division is transitioning to a paperless/electronic filing system.

    Records is responsible for all the departments data entry needs; police reports, traffic citations, traffic crash reports, arrests, parking citations, just to name a few. Records personnel process Freedom of Information Act requests and are responsible for Uniform Crime reporting to both the Illinois State Police and FBI. They’re also responsible to provide a high level of customer service both on the phone and in person.

    Needless to say, the records division provide necessary and vital services not only to the police department, but to the entire community. Gurnee is fortunate to have such dedicated people in the records division. Thank you to Heather for sharing a piece of her world with us, and thank you to all the records division personnel.

    Drug Paraphernalia: The Gurnee police department is very fortunate to have Officer Darren Baker. His dedication and passion to educate, especially the young, on the dangers of drug addiction is inspiring! He made it clear that all people on drugs are not bad people, sharing sobering stories to illustrate this point.

    He talked about how young people become addicted from prescription drugs, e.g. Oxycodone and Hydrocodone (which can be even more addictive than heroin and given by MD's for pain) to street drugs. Legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana was discussed and debated at length.

    Heroin overdose and the use of anti-opiate antidote Narcan was also discussed. Recently the Chicago Tribune reported on the front page that “Lali's Law” was moving to the U.S. House floor on the very day of our meeting with Officer Baker. The law is named after a student at Stevenson High School who died from an overdose of heroin. His family started an organization targeting substance abuse and overdose awareness and advocacy. The new law intends to allow pharmacists to distribute Narcan to people who do not have a prescription for it.

    Week #10 will concentrate on community service officers and the departments canine unit.

    Joyce King and Sharon Ward (Alumni of CPA 2014)

  11. Week #8
  12. This week the Citizens Police Academy learned all about traffic stops, something I'm sure most of us have had to deal with during our time behind the wheel. There was a brief classroom presentation led by Officer Tom Woodruff.

    We learned there are 3 components to a traffic stop; probable cause, tactical control, and release.

    Probable Cause: You might be driving over the posted limit, driving erratically, not signaling properly, or have a taillight or license plate light not functioning, just to name a few. There needs to be an articulable reason for the officer to make the stop.

    Tactical Control: What the officer observes you doing sitting in your car. Are you sitting still, moving around, reaching for something, etc.? All of your actions play a role in how the officer approaches your vehicle. Also a factor are the number of vehicle occupants. An officer may call for backup based on the number of people inside the vehicle along with what they may be observed doing.

    Release: This could be done with a verbal or written warning, a citation, or arrest if warranted.

    A typical traffic stop is performed with the police vehicle 20 feet behind and 3 feet to the left of the violator car. Sometimes the distance between cars is shorter based on where the stop is made, time of day and lighting conditions. A dashboard mounted camera in the squad car is usually activated.

    After the classroom portion the class went outside to perform simulated traffic stops. Everyone in the class got to run a bunch of different scenarios from single driver stops to multiple occupant stops. The scenarios us all a sense of how “routine” traffic stops can be, but also how difficult and potentially dangerous they can quickly become.

    Week #9 (04/28/16) will focus on the police records division and drug paraphernalia.

    Gordon Hannan-Vice President Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association

  13. Week #7
  14. Week #7 of the Gurnee CPA class was held on April 14, 2016 and was devoted to internal investigations and the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) teams.  The attendees were first welcomed by Chief Kevin Woodside.

    Internal Investigations: Chief Woodside began his presentation by attacking the myth that the police virtually always protect each other when there is wrongdoing.  The main focus of the presentation was to show the reasons an internal investigation is launched, what happens during these investigations, and how investigations are or can be concluded.

    Some of the subjects of internal investigations can include: workplace injuries, accidents or incidents with department vehicles (including pursuits), use of force, officer involved shootings (conducted by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force in conjunction with the Lake County States Attorney’s Office), harassment, and a host of others.

    Chief Woodside indicated that most internal investigations culminate in some form of additional or remedial personnel training.

    Northern Illinois Police Alarm System: NIPAS began in 1988 as a joint venture of suburban municipal police departments in the Chicago metro area to pool resources to respond to disasters.  Today, the System includes law enforcement agencies from dozens of communities including Gurnee.  NIPAS is divided into two groups, the Emergency Services Team and the Mobile Field Force.

    Emergency Services Team (EST): Gurnee Officer Matt Bender is a member of the EST, sometimes referred to as the SWAT team. This unit reports to critical incidents throughout the five county Chicago metro area. Their assignments may include situations involving weapons of mass destruction, barricaded subjects, hostage situations, high risk/warrant apprehension, and other law enforcement assignments which may require specialized skills and equipment.

    Mobile Field Force (MFF): The Gurnee Police Department has a number of officers who are members of the MFF each were a part of the presentation. The Mobile Field Force was formed to deal with crowd control when the 1994 World Cup Soccer Tournament came to the U.S. MFF personnel is dispatched to control unruly crowds, seal off problem areas, rescue citizens or officers from crowds, and apprehend multiple suspects. The presentation concluded with a number of videos from around the country showing Mobile Field Forces addressing demonstrators in a peaceful manner, including those who have locked themselves to various devices.  Special methods, tools and training must be utilized to remove protesters without hurting them.

    Next week (04/21/16) students will be exposed to the world of traffic stop scenarios.

    Deb (and Tim) Dineen – Current CPA Board Secretary

  15. Week #6
  16. Week 6 was held on April 7th, 2016 and was devoted to automated traffic enforcement, the investigations division and crime prevention.

    Automated Traffic Enforcement: Philip Brunell is the department’s traffic safety technician. He is the gatekeeper for all traffic enforcement programs within the village, including automated traffic enforcement; more commonly known as red light cameras.  The singular goal of the automated traffic enforcement program is to increase compliance with red lights, thereby reducing traffic crashes and injuries that result from them.

    A group of specially-trained officers review automated traffic enforcement violation recommendations as part of their daily patrol responsibilities. Officers use their discretion as if they would if they had observed the violation on the street in person. If the officer approves a red light camera notice, a civil penalty is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. Drivers are not identified as forward-facing photo enforcement systems are not allowed by Illinois law.  These civil penalties do not get reported to the Illinois Secretary of State unless a vehicle owner accumulates 5 of more unpaid notices.

    Approximately 43% of recommended red light camera violations are approved by officers. The remaining 57% are rejected for any number of reasons.

    Phils traffic safety program responsibility includes ensuring integrity is maintained, that programs are conducted within the framework laid out by statute and transparent, that reporting requirements are met, and to provide unparalleled customer service to those who need it.

    Investigations Division: Detective Matt Nietfeldt opened the session with a short history of his career with the Gurnee Police Department.  He was an undercover officer for three years, and was unrecognizable today from the pictures he showed the class from his undercover days.  His specialty in the investigations division is cell phone forensics.

    Detectives are provided with a myriad of equipment and resources to assist them with conducting their investigations.

    When a call comes in, it is the patrol officer who takes the initial report.  It is then assigned to a detective based upon case load and area of expertise.  Once a case is assigned, time is spent writing and compiling documents for the report, then consultation with the States Attorneys Office. After case review an arrest warrant may be issued. The arrest on a particular case is typically followed by a bond hearing, preliminary hearing, grand jury proceedings, pre-trial conferences, suppression hearings and then the trial.

    Crime Prevention: This topic was presented by the departments Crime Prevention Specialist Tom Agos.  Tom opened his presentation by explaining that crime prevention improves the quality of life for every community.  He indicated that there are 10 principles of crime prevention, with the first one being “preventing crime is everyone’s business.”  In Gurnee, the police department encourages residents and visitors to be actively engaged crime prevention.

    One program that has a deep impact in the community is neighborhood watch. Meetings are held twice a year for each participating neighborhood, of which there are 33.  At these meetings, crime statistics for the particular neighborhood are shared. Then problems specific to the neighborhood are discussed. Meeting typically end with some type of training program centered on the prevention of crime. If your neighborhood is not part of the program, talk to your neighbors to see if they are interested in starting a program.  If they are, contact Tom Agos at 847-599-7180.

    Week #7 (04/14/16) will focus on internal investigations and the departments partnership with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS).

    Deb (and husband Tim) Dineen – current CPA Alumni Association Board Secretary

  17. Week #5
  18. On Thursday March 31st, 2016 the CPA focused on crime scene and evidence processing. The class was led by CSO Chris Saffell, with assistance from Officers Marty DePerte, Bill Stashkiw, Kirk Helgesen and Detective Tracy Pugliese.

    Chris started off by asking the class if we have all seen “CSI” on TV, and then explained how that is NOT reality. Crimes are never “solved” in 60 minutes, especially when forensic data needs to be gathered, processed, packaged, analyzed, interpreted, documented, and preserved. Gurnee has 18 evidence technicians. Each work closely with the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory personnel specifically on physical evidence.

    The class split up into four groups and we had a made up crime described to the group. Then we rotated through stages of the mock crime scene to try our hands at being evidence technicians. We had Tracy leading the fingerprinting and blood evidence portion. She explained the differences in various finger printer powders and under which circumstances you would use each type. Then we got to collect a sample from a stain and field-test it for the presumptive presence of blood.

    Then we moved into the room where the actual (mock) crime occurred. Kirk Helgesen explained bullets, their lands and groves, bullet trajectory and guns in general. This was very informative and everyone walked away with much more knowledge of this subject. We went over victim and witness statements, then compared those with what the crime scene evidence seemed to be indicating.  

    The next stage was footprint impressions. We had a volunteer use his footwear to make a footprint and Chris showed us the different items they can use to collect this evidence. My group had lots of questions and Chris answered all of them. With her many years of service (over 30), it’s obvious she is an expert in her field.

    Week #6 (04/07/16) will focus on automated traffic enforcement, the investigations division, and crime prevention.
  19. Week #4
  20. On 03/24/16 Officer Darren Baker presented a compelling program about use of force. He asked us "What's really important? Your wallet, your purse, your car? What would you be willing to die for?" The point; during a robbery, just give the perpetrators what they want.

    Then he asked us "Is there defense without damage?" Force has to be necessary. An officer oftentimes has only a split second to determine what is “reasonable force.”

    We were asked to make a list of the traits we felt a street fighter would have. Out of that list, how many of those traits do each of us have? We learned that in order to be effective in a fight we need to possess a skill set. Most important, we need to have a plan!

    How to lose a fight: Expect attacker to be lenient on us; we under-respond or fail to get angry and fight back. In order to win, one needs to get angry, create pain, create fear, create lack of oxygen, create lack of sight, or have the use of weapons.
    The officers spent some time explaining the importance of having an awareness of our surroundings at all times. Being mentally prepared is a big part of surviving an unpleasant encounter.

    The remainder of the class was a hands on activity to show us how to defend ourselves from attackers. Officer Dion Synder was the "victim" in most scenarios, but a few courageous volunteers participated as victims as well. Thanks to Officer Synder for taking one (or several) for the team!

    We were shown how to get out of various types of holds, as well as how to inflict pain on certain pressure points in order to escape an attack.

    Week #5 (03/31/16) will focus on crime scene and evidence processing.

    Sharon Ward and Joyce King CPA Alumni Association members
  21. Week #3
  22. Week 3 of the academy, held on 03/17/16, was divided into four topics; patrol division, visitor oriented policing, DUI/drugged driver enforcement, and “felony stops.”

    Officers Ben Bozer, Jeff Hauptman and Kirk Helgesen began with an overview of the duties and responsibilities of Gurnee patrol officers. The patrol function is considered the “epicenter” of our agency. All other divisions; administration, communications, investigations, records; exist to support the patrol officer and his or her mission.

    Each officer works a 12 hour shift.  The shift begins with a 15 minute briefing recapping the activities of the past day as well as any items affecting the current shift. The officers stressed that no day is ever “routine” while conducting patrol.

    There are two forms of calls officers respond to; service calls from the public and those that are “officer initiated.”  Calls from the public include everything imaginable that people call the police about.  Officer initiated calls include traffic enforcement, extra patrols, investigating things they observe that may be out of place, court appearances, training, follow-up investigations, etc.

    During the second hour Officer Brian Carey presented information on the visitor oriented policing (VOP) concept. Department command applies the VOP concept to geographic areas within our community that attract and cater to a visitor population. There are officers whose regular “beat” assignment is Gurnee Mills (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) and Great America, allowing the officers to become intimately familiar with each venue. This approach is rooted in community policing strategies. Community policing has consistently been proven effective at keeping crime and disorder to a minimum.

    Officers partner with security staff members on all types of complaints; lost children or property, disorderly behavior, safety hazards, retail theft, etc. When not handling calls, officers provide a visible presence within each facility by interacting with the public while on foot patrol.

    Officer JR Nauseda, assisted by Officer Kirk Helgesen, presented a highly informative session on DUI/drugged drivers.  Officer Nauseda reminded the class that the legal limit for intoxication is still .08 in Illinois, and that the first DUI arrest is a “class A misdemeanor,” which means it’s an actual crime, not just a “regular” traffic ticket. A typical DUI arrest costs a defendant around $15,000 and loss of their driving privileges for at least 3 months.

    A highlight of this hour was class participation in a field sobriety test demonstration.  Specialized goggles were worn to simulate the effect of alcohol or drugs. Students learned that they could barely stand up while wearing the goggles much less successfully perform the tests. 

    Finally, the class went outdoors to watch a “felony stop” demonstration. Felony stops are conducted when officers possess specific information that vehicle occupants have committed, or are about to commit, a felony-level crime.  Felony stops are coordinated with numerous officers and police vehicles. The emphasis is to safely contain, then remove vehicle occupants while protecting the public, offenders, and police personnel at and near the scene.

    Next week (03/24/16) students will be exposed to arrest procedures, use of force parameters, and defensive tactics.

    Deb (and husband Tim) Dineen – current CPA Alumni Association Board Secretary
  23. Week #2
  24. Week 2 of Gurnee CPA Class #27 was held on March 10th, 2016 and was all about the 911 communications center. The class was led by Wendy Mann, Joe Zak, and Jason Shirkey who all work as civilian communications operators in the Gurnee 911 center.

    Wendy started out by explaining the hiring process and qualifications needed to apply for the position. There are fourteen 911 dispatchers each of which work 12 hour shifts. If anyone thinks this is some sort of secretarial position they’d better think again. The position requires the ability to multitask at an exceedingly high level; taking calls, monitoring numerous radios and computer screens as well as walk-in traffic by the public and officers. They’re expected to do it all in a calm, efficient, and professional manner.

    Joe Zak was the next speaker. He showed photos of the previous police facility when it was flooded by the Des Plaines River. Joe took us visually through the current facility and explained all of the monitoring that they do. He explained all the different computer screens and how they assist the 911 dispatchers. An interesting fact is that the 911 center is designed to function for 2 full hours if the entire building was engulfed in flames. The 911 center also serves as the security hub for the entire police facility.

    The last speaker for the evening was Jason Shirkey who taught about emergency medical dispatch. The 911 dispatchers can offer aid in almost 3 dozen medical emergency scenarios. From child birth to heart attacks, they’re all trained to provide guidance to callers until paramedics arrive at the scene. Whatever the emergency, by the time police or fire arrive on scene; the lifeline in the form of a skilled 911 operator has been your true first responder.

    The evening concluded with a tour of the 911 center.

    Next week (03/17/16) students will explore patrol functions as they relate to Gurnee Mills and Six Flags, DUI sobriety testing, felony stops, etc.

    Gordon Hannan, current Vice President, CPA Alumni Association
  25. Week #1
  26. On Thursday March 3rd, 2016 I attended the first class for a new group of CPA students. I did so as a "reporter" of sorts. Each week a member of the Gurnee Police CPA Alumni Association will attend classes then write a short review of each. Our intention is to share class details with the public to help shed light on this very vital and popular program.

    The class opened with a welcome from Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, Chief Kevin Woodside, and Deputy Chief Willie Meyer.

    I had anticipated that students would be just as excited as my class was on their first night. I was not disappointed. Each attendee introduced themselves and said they wanted to learn as much as possible about what the police do. As a side-note, I notice two members had a striking resemblance to Gurnee Police Commander Brian Smith.
    As it turns out his parents are members of the class!

    After the introductions Chief Woodside invited me to share some comments. I told the group that perhaps most important thing they will learn is who the police personnel are. I shared they will likely come to see each presenter as the open and warm people that they are, and the students will grow to care very much about each officer’s well-being.

    Chief Woodside gave a presentation about officer recruitment, including their “lateral entry” program. It’s an arduous process, and it takes roughly 54 weeks to become a Gurnee police officer. Criterion is rigorous and includes physical fitness and personality testing.  Effective communication skills have become increasingly important. Communicating with the public is a skill each officer must do with excellence. Students were also given an in-depth tour of the police facility.

    I'm confident that by graduation, this class will see how well the members of the Gurnee Police Department do every part of their job. 

    Next week (03/10/16) students will discover the 911 center, emergency medical dispatching and receive a tour of the communications division.

    Joe Vetrano, Current President, CPA Alumni Association

Youth Citizen Police Academy

The next session of the Gurnee Youth Citizen Police Academy has been canceled due to COVID-19 precautions.  For updates on next summer's session, please continue to check this website or follow us on Facebook for announcements.

Applications are available at the Gurnee Police Department and Warren Township High School Student Services.

For questions and to submit an application please contact Public Education Specialist Tami Martin at 847-599-7181 or email

Youth police academy participants will experience virtually every aspect of policing including patrol, investigations, traffic enforcement, canine unit, firearms, defensive tactics, and more. The academy is FREE and lunch is provided each day. 

Applicants must: 

• be able to successfully pass a background examination 
• be a high school student in good standing 
• be of good moral character 
• have reliable transportation