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Why businesses should support a...

Why businesses should support a Citizens Police Academy

By: Phil Hardwick - September 22, 2023

Jackson Co. Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Class visits the Pascagoula Police Dept. Training Facility - April 2023 (Photo from Pascagoula Police Dept. Facebook page)

Columnist Phil Hardwick writes that supporting your local citizens police academy is not only good for public safety but can also benefit businesses in the long run.

Does your business support your local police?

Of course, it does. What a silly question. Or maybe it doesn’t.

Across the country, local law enforcement agencies are facing public praise and criticism as never before. Mass shootings, for example, have put law enforcement in the spotlight. Traffic stops and arrests on video show police actions of all types.  Recent law enforcement misbehavior, such as that in Rankin County, lead many people to advocate that some police reform is needed.

That leads us to this question: How much do you know about your local police department or sheriff’s office? What’s their policy on use of force, vehicle pursuits, no-knock searches, and community policing?

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my local police department’s Citizen Police Academy. It’s held once a year to familiarize participants with the local department. Sessions meet once a week for several weeks and include a wide variety of subjects, including visits to the jail and emergency operations center. There is even a day at the firing range and a ride-along with an officer evening.  In short, it was a behind-the-scenes look at how law enforcement operates, including classroom instruction and hands-on training.   

Personally, it was very enlightening to compare today’s law enforcement with that when I was a police officer many years ago. None of the other participants in our class had a law enforcement background. They came away with a new appreciation about the local police.

Unfortunately, many businesses fail to recognize the importance of supporting their local Citizens Police Academy if they even have one. They may view it as a government program that doesn’t directly benefit their business. However, there are several compelling reasons why businesses should support their local Citizens Police Academy.

First and foremost, a Citizens Police Academy can improve public safety in the local community. By educating citizens about law enforcement practices, participants can become more aware of potential safety threats and how to prevent them. This can lead to a safer and more secure community, which can have a positive impact on local businesses. When people feel safe, they are more likely to go out and support local businesses, which can lead to increased sales and revenue.

Second, a Citizens Police Academy can improve community relations between law enforcement and residents. In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile incidents of police brutality and excessive force. These incidents have eroded public trust in law enforcement and created a divide between police and the communities they serve. By participating in a Citizens Police Academy, community members can gain a better understanding of law enforcement practices and build relationships with police officers. Also, it can show individual officers that the community cares. This can lead to increased trust and cooperation, which can benefit both law enforcement and local businesses.

Third, supporting the local Citizens Police Academy can be a way for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to the community. By sponsoring or donating to the program, businesses can show that they care about the safety and well-being of their customers and employees. This can enhance the reputation of the business and increase customer loyalty.

Finally, supporting the local Citizens Police Academy can be a way for businesses to give back to their community. Law enforcement is an essential public service that relies on the support of the community to function effectively. By supporting the local Citizens Police Academy, businesses can help ensure that law enforcement has the resources and support it needs to keep the community safe.

In conclusion, supporting the local citizens police academy is not only good for public safety but can also benefit businesses in the long run. By promoting community safety and building relationships with law enforcement, businesses can enhance their reputation and increase customer loyalty. Furthermore, by supporting law enforcement, businesses can give back to the community and ensure that it remains a safe and prosperous place to live and work.

If your community does not have a Citizens Police Academy and you would like to learn more, contact me at and I’ll share more specific information.

About the Author(s)
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Phil Hardwick

Phil Hardwick is an award-winning business columnist and semi-retired economic developer. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Millsaps College Else School of Management for many years. He has taught over 1,000 students, written over 800 columns, written 11 books and assisted over 100 communities and organizations with strategic planning. In February 2016 he was inducted as a Lifetime Member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.