The  Pasadena Community Police Academy is a bi-annual, eight-week program. (Kellie Strubinski/Submitted)

Pasadena Community Police Academy is waiting for you

I graduated from the fall session of the Pasadena Community Police Academy on Nov. 2. It is a bi-annual, eight-week program that gives you an “up close and personal” view of every unit within the Pasadena Police Department. You might ask, “Why would anyone want to sign up for that?”

Let me tell you why you need to get on their waitlist for their Spring 2023 Academy.

I was surprised to meet so many officers in every department/unit who are so dedicated, brave and passionate about what they do. They all want to keep you, your families, your businesses and your property safe. They work tirelessly together and sometimes alone to cover every possible thing that can go wrong in this city. You would be surprised to hear just how many things do go wrong in a day in Pasadena — some more dangerous than others. 

These officers are away from their families for long hours, risking their own safety, working on shifts that are unpredictable from day to day. 

I did a four-plus-hour ride along with one of the officers. Before we left, I thought I was going to throw up. The first place we went was to the scene of a murder that had taken place the night before. I heard about it in the shift briefing before my “ride along” and was glad that the officers already had discovered surveillance footage. It would only be a matter of time before the killer was behind bars. By the time I did my ride along, I had already heard from the homicide unit officers during class and I knew how efficient they were at using every possible resource, including your tips, to apprehend killers. Their success rate is over 90% due to their dedication and unrelenting efforts to comb through information to get to the truth and locate their perpetrators. 

On my ride along, we went to one call after another, each one completely different from the call before. My officer was always calm and cool and assessed each situation quickly. He responded with admirable de-escalation techniques. I knew this was no small feat as one of our academy classes was dedicated to role playing. The entire role playing evening, my classmates, including myself, hand cuffed and shot up innocent “actors” as we all got overwhelmed with scenarios that played out quickly, often dangerously with out of control emotions causing people to behave in unpredictable ways.

After that evening, my respect for officers skyrocketed. Their ability to read a situation quickly, determine who is who, respond with the correct amount of force at the right time while keeping their own emotions in check is nothing short of amazing. This does not come naturally. The level of training these officers go through (in a variety of areas) would surprise you.

Another class was at the shooting range, where not only did we get to shoot a variety of guns, but we got to act out electronic scenarios with electronic guns (think life-size video games) on a big screen. My classmate “partner” and I were shot so many times that we were glad we still had our real jobs. Our inability to assess potentially dangerous situations quickly and accurately cost us. Then we started shooting innocent “electronic” people while trying to keep from getting ourselves killed. We started overcompensating in our attempts to not get killed. Our anxiety got the best of us.

I’d love to go into all of the interesting details that every department shared with my class, but this article would never end. Some of my favorites, The Air Ops Unit — with their infrared lights, cameras and 3-minute response time — made me proud. 

The special investigation unit is working bravely, tirelessly to get drugs off the streets and away from our kids. Fentanyl is pernicious and now comes in candy-colored tablets, which they work hard to eradicate. I was proud to hear of their brave successes.

The defensive tactics unit has focused on jujitsu training for more than 15 years. It means the “gentle art” in Japanese. This style of martial arts enables officers to apprehend suspects with minimal injury to the suspect while improving the time it takes to get the suspect under control.

The fraud/stolen identity unit never ceased to amaze me. Perpetrators purchase inexpensive machines off Amazon that enable them to recreate credit cards. The success rate with which perpetrators persuade Pasadena citizens to relinquish thousands of dollars to expunge nonexistent warrant(s). To this I say, “Don’t send money/crypto currency to anyone without checking with the police first.”

Records, admin services, communications, special victims unit, forensics, neighborhood services, burglary, dispatch, PAL, traffic (motorbikes), jail, Crimestoppers, event planning/security, counterterrorism and the K9 units all deserve a big shout out as well. Each unit has a lot to share about its progressive policies, dedicated officers and its individual strategies for working together to make an overall organization that works efficiently for you and this city. This is all done with a shortage of officers on a tight budget. 

I encourage you to sign up for this program and get to know the people who are working tirelessly to keep you and those dear to you safe. You won’t regret it. Apart from it being incredibly informative, they also make it a lot of fun. Their good-hearted banter and camaraderie are infectious. If anything, you will walk away highly informed about this great city, and proud to know that you are protected by a fine group of officers dedicated to you and your safety. 

By Kellie Strubinski