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The world of public service opened in a big way on May 26 to the 21 graduates of the Citizens Police Academy. Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover, an alumna of the CPA herself, spoke to the graduates about opportunities in the Citizens Police Academy Alumni organization, volunteer positions on boards and committees of the City of Evanston, and even the chance to seek public office.

The small ceremony in Hardin Hall on the Northwestern University campus was full of big moments for the graduates, who had spent two hours over each of 12 weeks learning the ways of the Evanston Police Department: Tahera Ahmad, Misael Benitez, Kenneth Brissette, Roxane Fox, Barbara Granner, Alan Greiman, Joy Harrison, Adam Hryniewicz, Scott Irwin, Shawn James, Kristina LoRusso, Crista Noel, Carrie O’Connell, Dawn Overend, Roger Price, Susan Rex, Lee Roberson, Jessica Rudis, Lia Schreier, Kijuan Sutton and William Widmer.

As graduates of the CPA, they are eligible to participate in alumni activities and to become members of an even more elite team of citizen volunteers with the police department: the Citizens Emergency Response Team.

Police Chief Richard Eddington spoke of the importance of partnerships between the police department and the community. “We’ll [the police will] … solve the crime,” he said. “The community has got to fix the problem.”

Keynote speaker Michael Masters, Cook County’s chief of homeland security, spoke of the importance of the police in the community. He said the word “police” is derived from the Greek word polis, which means “city,” and quoted Sir Robert Peel, founder of modern policing: “The police are the public, and the public are the police.”

Two members of the class spoke on behalf of all the graduates. Both emphasized the importance of the police to the community and the leadership of Chief Eddington and of Officer Loyce Spells, their instructor. Joy Harrison said, “The Police Department is like insurance. … You hope you don’t need it, but when you do, you can’t wait.” She said the ride-alongs with police officers and the visit to the 911 center were particularly important.

“We learned how to dust for fingerprints and about youth outreach,” said Dawn Overend. One classmate, she said, wrote that though they did not meet [notable crime-fighters] Horatio Caine, Easy Rawlins or Brenda Lee Johnson, they met a dedicated and professional cadre of Evanston police officers. “Chief Eddington shows true leadership and Officer Spells is my personal hero,” said Ms. Overend.

Officer Spells presented the class to the audience of friends and family, calling each one not just by the given name but by a nickname he had given to each. And, one by one, “The Smile,” “The Guard,” “The Game-Changer,” “The Judge,” “Po Po,” “Officer Grandma” and their colleagues became alumni of the 33rd class of the Evanston Citizens Police Academy.