Yakima residents will soon be able to learn more about what it means to be a police officer as the Yakima Police Department Citizens Academy returns starting in April.

The return of the academy is a result of the 2012 citizens survey. Yakima residents indicated a strong desire for the city to improve safety, so the city and police department included the academy as part of that effort.

Sergeant Linda Watts will oversee the training course and she welcomes this opportunity for local citizens to be exposed to police procedures.

It’s a great opportunity to give citizens a better understanding of the job police officers perform and the dangerous situations they face on a daily basis.

The academy will start up on April 9 and is free of charge. It will consist of eight weekly classroom sessions which will run two hours in length. There will also be an optional Saturday class at the shooting range. Classes will be held at the Special Operations center located at 207 S. 3rd St.

Students will learn a variety of different law enforcement activities including the K-9 program, how officers deal with gangs and traffic enforcement among many others.

According to a city-issued release, applicants must be 18 years of age and pass a background check. Spots in the academy will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Applications are available at the Yakima Police Department or by contracting Sergeant Linda Watts by phone at 575-6158 or by e-mail at linda.watts@yakimawa.gov.