The Hilliard Division of Police's first Citizens Police Academy Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, at the Safety Services Building, 5171 Northwest Pkwy.

The Hilliard Division of Police's first Citizens Police Academy Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, at the Safety Services Building, 5171 Northwest Pkwy.

Twenty-eight students, who have attended the classes, will graduate from the academy. The classes is modeled from similar programs from other communities, notably Westerville.

Over the past several Tuesdays, the students have been involved in mock crime scene investigations, shooting a Glock 9mm pistol on the firing range, traffic stops and other scenarios a police officer might see in the line of duty.

"It's supposed to start at 6 p.m. - they're generally there by 5:30," Police Chief Doug Francis told Hilliard City Council members last week. "It's supposed to end at 9 - they're still there at 10. They just don't want to leave."

"Most of them want us to have even more sessions," said Officer Hyda Slone, one of the hosts for the Academy. Slone read an e-mail sent by a student: "Last night was outstanding. The scenarios were terrific. It gave me more appreciation for the hazards our peace officers face and a better understanding of the pressures on you and your peers."

Slone said a recent scenario simulated a domestic dispute: A woman tried to get into her home and a man burst through the front door. Both roles were played by police officers. The woman started to hit the man with a crowbar, then advanced towards the students, in the role of the police officers.

"We've actually had students shoot the guy that bursts through the door, an innocent person, because they're startled," Slone said. Others shot the woman after she had already hit the man in the head with the crowbar, and others didn't shoot until the woman advanced toward them.

"In a deadly force situation, we are allowed to act with deadly force to stop that action," Slone said. "You can tell the student has his gun aimed, he's pointing it and looking like can I shoot? And it's not real bullets, but just understanding that no one wants to take a life.

"That's kind of what these scenarios are about. People don't understand: Why can't you just talk them down? It's not that easy, and that's what they're finding out. They're really seeing through the eyes of an officer.

"It's a lot easier to judge an officer after everything's done and be very critical, and that's why the law talks about you have to judge them as if you were in the same situation," Slone said. "What would a reasonable officer/person do in that situation? They're finding out how important our training is, and how important it is that we practice ahead of time some of those scenarios."

In addition to the students learning about the police, the academy has also been beneficial to the 32 officers who have participated, Slone said.

"Many of our officers, especially those on third shift, all they see typically are bad guys," Slone said. "I can't tell you how many officers have come back and said these people are really nice and they're really interested in us and our police department. And they don't see that (normally)."

Francis said he hopes to have more Citizen Police Academies in 2011, and that it will lead to volunteering opportunities such as giving tours of the police station.

The next academy begins Feb. 23. Those who are interested should call Officer Slone at (614) 334-2321 for an application.