Best Community Class - 2006
Citizens Police Academy
Do you want to know what it really takes to become a cop? If you live or work on Miami Beach, you can enroll in a twelve-week crash course and find out what the real CSI unit does (graphic crime scene photos included!), learn tactical and pursuit driving maneuvers that could save your life (pulling three 360s on a slick course is awesome!), experience the adrenaline of searching for a suspect in a darkened building (and shoot them with paint pellets!), and meet the K-9 unit (bark!). You can schedule a ride-along and spend a midnight shift on patrol (more doughnuts and coffee, please!). They will even provide you with dinner before each class (excellent!). The CPA, a free course offered three times a year, just completed its 28th cycle, and counts more than 500 citizens as graduates. Recent graduate Jyrki Auvinen, front office manager of The Hotel of South Beach, signed up for the class because he works and lives on the Beach. "I wanted to have a better understanding of how our local police department operates," says Auvinen. "The course was not only very informative, but the officers who organized it made it also interesting and fun. I even ended up volunteering to be shot a few times with a simulation gun! Yes, it hurts." Once you complete the twelve-week course, you receive a certificate and a pin, and alumni are awarded with additional classes (get your concealed-weapons permit or spend a day with the medical examiner!), a holiday party, and an invitation to join the CPA board. You will meet some very cool cops who love what they do, and you will certainly have a new respect for those who put their lives on the line every day they step out on the street in that blue uniform. "Now that I have completed the course," Auvinen adds, "I not only have a better understanding of the work that these fine people do, but I also better understand how my actions -- or inactions -- can affect the outcome of a situation where they might be called upon."