News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Police Launch New Program: Student Police Academy
Contact : Janine De la Vega, Public Affairs Manager, Police Department    650-329-2413

Palo Alto, CA – The Palo Alto Police Department is now accepting applications from high school students for a brand new spin on a popular community program. Our new Student Police Academy launches next month and runs through November.

The Student Police Academy is based on our popular Basic Citizens Police Academy. The Student Police Academy is an 8-week course designed to foster increased understanding and communication between members of our student community and the police. Instructors are public safety employees who present on topics such as patrol procedures, laws of arrest, search and seizure, community relations, criminal investigations, evidence collection, police accountability, use of force and officer safety, disaster preparedness, and more. Students are also able to go on a ride-along with a patrol officer, participate in a “sit-along” with our public safety dispatchers, and experience a force options video simulator. All classes are modified versions from the Basic Citizens Police Academy, and are tailored specifically to a teen audience.

The Student Police Academy offers participants insight into how our Department operates and how we serve the community. It creates well-informed members of our student community who possess greater knowledge of police practices and services. Everyone benefits from increased communication and mutual understanding, including our officers.

The Student Police Academy runs for eight consecutive Wednesday nights, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at various City of Palo Alto facilities. The session begins on September 26 and ends on November 14. There is also a kick-off event that occurs on Monday, September 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is no cost for participation, but the class is limited to 25 students. Applications for this session are due no later than Wednesday, August 29.

Applicants must be enrolled at a high school in Palo Alto, be free of felony convictions, be free of any misdemeanor convictions within the past year, and be able to successfully complete a criminal background check. Applicants under the age of 18 must also have the permission of their parent or guardian. After submitting the written application, applicants will have an interview with the Student Police Academy coordinator before the criminal background check is performed.

The Palo Alto Police Department first offered its Basic Citizens Police Academy in 1995, and over the course of the next 14 years, ran 24 classes that produced more than 350 graduates. Several of those graduates went on to become volunteers with the police department, and others even went on to become career police officers. The program was discontinued in 2009 due to staffing reductions within the Police Department, but made its return in the fall of 2016 with a completely redesigned curriculum. Since then, six classes have graduated. We now run two Basic Citizens Police Academy classes annually, with new classes beginning every January and April, and we intend to offer the Student Police Academy annually beginning every September. Application periods for each academy class are announced separately.

The Student Police Academy is just the latest in a series of new endeavors to foster stronger community relationships under the leadership of Chief Robert Jonsen. Thus far in 2018, the Police Department has brought back its Traffic Team, relaunched our participation in National Night Out, and is currently in the process of creating a Police Chief’s Advisory Group.

Interested members of the student community may download a Student Police Academy application here (link disabled, as the application period has closed). Completed applications should be e-mailed to, sent via U.S. Mail to the Palo Alto Police Department (attention to Student Police Academy), or dropped off at the front desk of the police station during normal business hours (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Again, applications for this session are due no later than Wednesday, August 29, 2018. For questions or additional information, please send an e-mail message to