BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Many police officers will tell you that there are a lot of myths surrounding who they are and what they do.
One of the best ways they can put the myths to rest is by letting people in the community see for themselves.
Burlington police officers are not only welcoming people based on what they will see, but also based on what they will hear.
For the first time, the Burlington Police Department is offering a Community Police Academy in Spanish.
“Our goal is that it's as seamless as possible with as little interpretation as possible. We're recruiting our Spanish-speaking officers to teach our blocks of instruction,” said Lt. Mark Yancey, of the Community Relations Division.
Just like the previous academies, people in the community will get a detailed look at different aspects of being a police officer and the department’s general operations across 11 weeks.
By offering the program in Spanish, the hope is that an even more diverse group of people will feel comfortable building a relationship with police.
Many departments across the Piedmont offer similar programs referred to as citizens police academies, but the Burlington Police Department didn’t want to refer to this program that way.
Granville Simmons, a community outreach specialist and a civilian employee of the Community Relations Division, explained how the word “citizens” could unintentionally discourage some people from participating.
“They're not citizens, but they're permanent residents, but they perceive that possibly this is not for me and we don't want to go down that route,” he said. “We want to make sure people understand that this is for everyone who is a resident, who lives here in Burlington or Alamance County, that they can participate.”
About half the spots for the Burlington Police Department’s Community Police Academy in Spanish are still open.
Classes are once a week on Tuesday beginning Feb. 26 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The program is held at the police department on West Front Street.
Applications are being accepted online.