officials are happy with the outcome of the department's first-ever Citizens Police Academy, but the program may not continue beyond 2012.
A U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance made the program possible, but the grant will be exhausted after the department's 2012 academy ends.
"If we can continue it, we will,” Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee said. "Right now, we're looking at the second class as it for now."
The department of its first, 19-member citizens academy class Thursday.
Kent Police Lt. Paul Canfield, who ran the academy, said the first class cost about $4,000.
"Which is less than we projected, but still that’s a pretty big chunk of money," Canfield said. "The largest part of the cost is wages to pay officers to present during the academy."
The academy's goal was to give its members sort of a behind-the-scenes look at the police department and to foster relationships with residents in Kent's neighborhoods. Classes ranged from learning to explanations of the city's .
Lee said an added bonus was that the academy members really seemed to enjoy themselves during the 12-week course.
"I expected them to learn something and kind of open their eyes and dissolve some misperceptions about police work and maybe our department, but they really just seemed to enjoy themselves," she said.
Canfield said the academy turned out better than he expected.
"Going into this I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect," he said. "I think people learned quite a bit from it and learned what police actually do.”
The second academy is expected to start in February. Applications to attend are on the police department's website. Applicants must be at least 18 and a Kent-area resident without any felony convictions, any misdemeanor convictions within the past two years or any pending misdemeanor charges.
Canfield said whether or not they hold a third academy or beyond depends on financing.
Lee said they will look for other grants but can't say for certain if the academy will continue beyond the second class.
"It has been kind of expensive … and I don’t think that’s something our budget can afford on our own," Lee said. "We’ll wait and see if it’s going to prove beneficial down the road, as far as people who went through it. But the immediate response has been great.”