Chat with Chief Stone: Community Police Academy

The University of Illinois Police Department is here to keep you safe, and it provides a number of different services that can help you while you are on campus. This month, we’re speaking with Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone about the Community Police Academy, which is a free program open to all students to learn more about the police department and how they can keep themselves safe.

What is the Community Police Academy?

We started the Community Police Academy last year to help better connect students, faculty, and staff with the police department that serves them. Participants in the academy learn about patrol, 9-1-1 emergency response, and what happens when you call the police. Participants also learn about our special units, like crime scene investigations, the bomb squad, police dogs, and our SWAT operations. A number of the activities are hands-on so participants get a feel for what police officers do. And then the program culminates with a police ride-along so participants can see how officers respond to real-life calls.

Why is it good for students to participate in the police academy?

There are a few reasons why this is such an important opportunity. First, we want students to get to know us, and we want to get to know about them and their safety needs. This academy opens the door for those types of conversations, and it gives students a better understanding of the resources we can provide in an emergency or if they are experiencing a bad situation. Also, policing philosophies are right now under close examination in the United States. The Community Police Academy gives participants a good insight into what we do and why we do it, so we can have better-informed conversations about how the police can better serve our communities. And finally, it’s just plain fun. You will get to see a lot of things you wouldn’t normally see.

How do I get involved?

You can visit the UIPD website at to learn more about the class and sign up. Space is limited, and we do typically have a waitlist for the class, so it’s a good idea to sign up soon. The academy is one night per week for four weeks. And it’s free! This is a unique opportunity, so we encourage everyone to check it out.