Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Community Police Academy Kicks Off Oct. 4

Birmingham has set up a community police academy to show residents how the police department operates. (Photo by Tom Gordon)

The Birmingham Police Department will host a 10-week “community police academy” beginning Oct. 4. The program, approved by the City Council Tuesday, will be free and is intended to provide “an opportunity for the community to find out how the police department operates,” said Captain Janice Blackwell, the BPD’s community engagement liaison.

The program was last held several years ago, Blackwell said, and provides residents with guidance for setting up neighborhood watches. The program also has the goal of strengthening trust between the public and the police department, particularly in the wake of rising gun violence in the city.

Mayor Randall Woodfin has repeatedly called for community members to cooperate with police and to ignore the stigma associated with “snitching,” which has prevented many homicide cases from being solved.

Starting Oct. 4, sessions will be held Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Birmingham Police Academy “except for one Saturday that we do out at the range,” Blackwell said. That class will involve simulating dangerous situations that police officers may face.

“Oftentimes (citizens) ask, ‘Why did the police shoot?’ So it puts them in those situations that police are put in, so it will give them an opportunity to see why something happened,” Blackwell said.

Police driving instructors will also demonstrate “different maneuvers” with police vehicles.

The City Council has allocated $10,000 to the program.

The BPD is looking to have 25 participants in the class. To register, residents can call the BPD’s COPE Division at 205-933-4175 or email