By BOB COUPLAND
WARREN - Area residents are learning about the inner workings and services of the Warren police department as part of a weekly Citizens Academy.
During the weekly course, police officers provide glimpses into department operations which include a ride-along in a police cruiser.
Tina Milner, coordinator of Warren Weed and Seed, said ''the program offers an inside look'' at local law enforcement and provides for better police communications with citizens, neighborhoods and businesses.
Milner said those in the class can share the information they learn with others.
The fall sessions have 15 participants, who indicated they wanted to learn more about what the police do in serving the public.
Gary Stevens of Braceville said he has been involved with the community and wanted to learn more about the police department. He said he has family members who have been police officers and wanted to know how he as a resident can better assist police.
Alice Stevens said she was concerned for children in schools, and has seen changes in students in the past 15 years.
"I want to be aware more, be more informed and be able to help out where I can," she said.
Rhonda Bennett, president of the Southwest Neighborhood Association and co-chair of Weed and Seed, said she wanted to learn more about residents of the community.
Frank Spano, 81, a Fraternal Order of Police member, said he believes in the police, supports them and understands society has changed.
"I remember how it was safe to walk anywhere. Now I am afraid to let my cat outside at times," he said.
Spano said block watches have helped to make neighborhoods safer while working with police.
Heather Wiseman of North Jackson said she is looking at a career in law enforcement while attending college and wanted to learn more.
Milner said the "Cops and Kids caring campaign'' focuses on putting police in the neighborhoods to show children that police come there for good things, not just problems.
Warren police officer Geoffrey Fusco, who was among those leading the class on community safety issues, said there are 63 police officers in Warren who handle all the problems.
"There is a small handful of residential causing the problems,'' Fusco said.
He said the community safety initiative includes neighborhood watches where residents are ''the extra ears and eyes for the police department.''
"If you see something that is suspicious don't be afraid to let us know," he said.
Milner said participants in the program will go over laws, health code violations, phonetic alphabet and examples of different criminal activities police face.
Milner said there will be simulations of crime scenes. "These will be scenarios that we can see that police officers go through," Milner said.
Milner said each week will have a different speaker and topics such as radio dispatchers and junk vehicles.
Applications are being accepted for the next academy to start in the March. Applications are available at the police department or Weed and Seed. Twenty applications are available. Information for the public is available at www.warren.org.