Police work is a unique career opportunity, Cmdr. Aaron Klima said on the first night of the Shorewood Citizens' Police Academy.
"It's one of the only jobs where you can take a life, save a life, or lose your life," Klima told the 16 men and women in attendance Monday night.
And that kind of stress takes a toll, he said, with the police suffering a relatively high rate of both divorce and suicide.
"It's not just a job, it's a career," Klima said, and went on to explain how one pursues a vocation in law enforcement, from the application process, to testing, to training at the academy, up through learning on the job.
This first session of the Citizens' Police Academy will be followed by 12 more, with classes in crime scene investigation, drunken driving enforcement, the use of Tazers and pepper spray, and white collar crime, as well as a field trip to a firearms training facility.
The 16 citizen cadets in attendance Monday night ranged in age from 20 through 80. The quarter-year academy curriculum will give them a glimpse of the day-to-day duties of Shorewood's police officers.
"It's very interesting," said Kim Shanahan, who was attending the class with her husband, Mike, and son William, who was recently commissioned as an officer in the Marines and is waiting to be deployed.
Village Planner Karen James also signed up for the class. Even though she has worked closely with police officers on such tasks as securing grants, James still saw value in finding out even more about the department.
"I think it's very important to learn from their perspective what they do," James said.
Klima not only told the class about the rigorous selection process cadets are subjected to before they are hired on, but touched on the department's relationship with the community and how it is responsive to the wants of the people.
"The chief would tell you, the No. 1 complaint in Shorewood is traffic," he said. "So what do we concentrate on? Traffic."
Traffic troubles aside, Klima pointed out that the village has a high quality of life.
"We don't have prostitutes and drug dealers on a lot of street corners in Shorewood," he said. "This is a great place to work and live."