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Laguna police Citizen's Academy graduates 22

Participants learn the history of the department and how crime scene investigations are conducted. They also take a tour of the O.C. Jail and shoot at the firing range.

May 10, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
  • Graduates of the Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen's Academy pose after the ceremony. From top row, left to right, are Bart Zanbergen, James Conway, Robert Johnson, Mark Linton, Tommy Toman, Joe Volpe, Lawrence Lee, Natalie Sundean, Don Sundean, Michael Harrington Suzanne Scallon, Rowena St. Moritz, David Sanford, Todd Snider, Jim Rue Salome Bruner, Michele Linton, Julie Brickman, Ashleigh Harrington and Sara Novak.
Graduates of the Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen's…

Twenty-two folks around Laguna know a lot more about how and why Laguna Beach police operate than they did three months ago.

They are graduates of the 17th annual Police Department Citizen's Academy, and were awarded certificates of completion in a ceremony held May 3 at Tivoli Terrace.

"I now have more appreciation for what the police do," said graduate Joe Volpe.

The program is designed to provide community members with a better understanding of the Police Department and help foster better communication, according to Lt. Darin Lenyi, the class facilitator.

"It is a way to get to know us," said Police Chief Paul Workman. "We want to expose the community to a different side of law enforcement than what they hear about — corrupt or incompetent officers on television or in movies.

"There are a couple of knucklehead cops, and every time we have something like Rodney King or what went on up in Fullerton, it takes a long time for us to recover from that.

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"Yes, there are screwed-up cops, but not the majority. Most cops are trying to have a career that has meaning."

Academy participants learn about the history of the department, and how criminal, driving under the influence, accident and crime scene investigations are conducted. They are taught about the enforcement of traffic laws, gang and drug activity, Neighborhood Watch, other crime prevention programs and the K-9 unit.

They tour the Orange County Jail and the local department headquarters, shoot at the firing range and go on a ride-along.

"The ride-along was completely different than the one I went on when I was in school in Newport," said resident James Conway.

Conway said he appreciated the transparency and the knowledge he gained about police procedures.

The program evolved from Lenyi's college thesis. He is assisted in the class room by Ross Fallah, a graduate of the fifth class, and experts in appropriate fields of law enforcement.

Participation requires dedication. The class meets for 3½ hours for 12 weeks. Graduates are eligible to join the Police Department volunteers.

Classmates Ashleigh Harrington, 28, and her father Michael Harrington, 55, both said they intend to volunteer.

Alumni are 340 strong and include retirees, business and professional people, and some city employees who work with the Police Department, but had no previous law enforcement experience, Workman said.

The next academy is scheduled to start Sept. 6. For more information, email dlenye@lagunabeachcity.net or call (949) 497-0705 ext. 230.

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