If you've ever wondered what it might be like to be a police officer, or how you might react in split-second life-threatening situations, you can register for New Albany and Gahanna's Citizen Police Academy.

But hurry: Your chance to participate soon will pass.

The Citizen Police Academy, conducted jointly by the New Albany and Gahanna police departments, is free to the public and will run for nine weeks every Wednesday from Jan. 23 to March 20. Residents must be 18 or older to participate.

Subject-matter experts will combine classroom instruction and field exercises on OVI enforcement; laws of arrest, search and seizure; firearms training; active-shooter scenarios and shoot/don't shoot scenarios; crime-scene investigation; street-drug identification; and emergency 911 dispatching. The active shooter and shoot/don't shoot scenarios are realistic enough to get your pulse racing and the firearms training is traditionally a favorite among participants.

This program helps residents better understand the quick thinking necessary to perform as a police officer and also helps our officers develop deeper relationships with those they serve.

Law enforcement is a difficult but rewarding job. Officers know that one bad response can wipe out a lifetime of good work.

Even though New Albany's crime rate is low, we still rely heavily on community tips to solve crimes. Tips often are provided only when there is trust, and there is no better way to build trust than by creating avenues of open dialogue between officers and residents.

Citizen Police Academy registration for New Albany residents still is open at newalbanyohio.org/news/2018/12/new-albany-gahanna-police-announce-joint-citizen-police-academy. For assistance or more information, call New Albany police at 614-855-1234.

Gahanna's deadline to register was Jan. 9. For more information, call Gahanna police at 614-342-4240.

Joel Strahler is a sergeant for the New Albany Police Department.