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Santa Clara, CA 95050

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Police Department

Citizens' Police Academy

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The Santa Clara Police Department’s (SCPD) Citizens’ Police Academy (CPA) is a 12-week program designed to provide our citizens and business community with a greater understanding of law enforcement and a behind the scenes, in-depth look at SCPD's organizational structure, functions and operational procedures.

The purpose of the CPA is to accomplish three goals:

  • To create an informative and enjoyable experience while educating community members on the training, procedures and the pressures associated with law enforcement;
  • To allow the citizens to meet the men and women who serve them; and,
  • To provide Police Department employees with the opportunity to meet and hear from the citizens they serve.

The curriculum and teaching methods are similar to those of the regular Police Academy, with a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, videos, tours and hands-on activities in a safe, controlled environment. The weekly sessions are not intended to train participants to be a law enforcement professional, but rather produce more informed citizens. Each session is taught by sworn officers and civilian professionals (Records Specialists, Public Safety Dispatchers, Jail Service Officers, Community Service Officers, etc.) in a friendly setting. Topics vary from session to session based on trends in law enforcement and generally cover the following:

  • Laws of Arrest
  • Search and Seizure
  • Internal Affairs
  • Use of Force
  • Traffic Stops / Driving Under the Influence investigation
  • Financial Crimes / Identity Theft
  • Digital Forensics / Crime Scene Processing
  • Specialized Units (e.g. Crime Prevention, Nuisance Suppression, Special Response Team, Hostage Negotiation Team, Canine Unit, Motorcycle/Traffic Unit, Bicycle Unit, Special Enforcement Team, etc.)
  • Community Policing
  • Ethics in Law Enforcement

The program meets one night per week from 6 - 10 p.m. for twelve weeks. In addition, there is one Saturday class from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Participants are required to attend all sessions and are encouraged to actively engage in class discussions. Participants will be asked to critique the various instructors as well as the overall academy experience.

There is no cost to participate in the Citizens' Police Academy.

Selection Process and Requirements

Members of the CPA are selected by the Chief of Police. Potential candidates for the CPA must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 21 years of age;
  • A resident of the City of Santa Clara (or have strong ties to the city);
  • Willing to undergo a modified background check;
  • Not convicted of any felonies;
  • Not convicted of any misdemeanors within one year of application; and,
  • All contacts (such as a speeding ticket or an arrest) with any law enforcement agency during the course of the class must report the information to the class coordinator as soon as possible.

Any of the above requirements may be waived or modified upon review and approval of the Chief of Police.

The upcoming sessions are planned as follows:

Spring, 2020
Due to COVID-19, the Spring session of CPA has been postponed to the Fall.

Fall, 2020
The participants from the Spring, 2020 session will have first priority for the Fall session. As a result, SCPD does not expect to have vacancies in the Fall.
Dates and times are yet to be determined.

Applications for future sessions are being accepted online

For more information, contact Carolyn McDowell at 408-615-4892 or

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