Want to be a Dayton police officer for a day? Sign up for the Dayton Law Enforcement Experience

Pictured is a Police Officer at UD’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration 2023. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta for Flyer News.

James Martin | Contributing Writer

The Dayton Law Enforcement Experience, once known as the Citizens Police Academy, will start again this month, offering à la carte classes for interested citizens in the community through the help of the Neighborhood Assistance Officers (NAO). 

The classes run on a first come, first serve basis with limited spots at each class. However, if you don’t make the first class list, do not fear. With the introduction of a relatively new system, classes will be added to fit the interest of the community, meaning if one class is full, another will be added quickly.

The NAO program is supervised by Ronald Strehle, a former Dayton police officer. He retired on Dec. 8 and took over the program four days later. His main duties as supervisor include scheduling, ensuring each NAO officer has vehicles at their disposal, organizing Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) checkpoints, overseeing the 32 members of the Police and Clergy Together (PACT) program, and maintaining and managing the

Crime Stoppers program, an anonymous crime reporting reward system.

Strehle said “The Building searches class is one of the more popular classes because of the adrenaline students will experience when learning, so if we only have 20 spots for one class and 30 show up, I can tell them come back on this day.”

The once 12-week program now begins in March and will continue as needed, allowing classes to never stop and more students to attend the variety of classes in areas such as firearms handling, traffic stop scenarios, evidence collection, and more on a continuous basis.

The Citizens’ Police Academy began in 2012 as a method of allowing citizens to learn everyday tasks of local Police officers. Today, the program has a list of more than 600 people on their email list and other citizens can find information on class dates, times, and topics via social media posts such as Facebook.

With the new system of classes, the NAO-run program now allows citizens to attend as many classes as they please. However, a background check is still necessary for all participants. The NAO program was established in 1970 and is a volunteer program run through the Dayton police force. NAO officers must at minimum volunteer four hours per week and will respond to any emergency-call outs as needed.

What does a NAO Officer do? What doesn’t a NAO officer do? According to Dayton Police Volunteers,

NAO Do’s:

* Patrol and observe neighborhoods, parks, schools, businesses and City properties, calling in any violations or suspicious activity they observe.

* Relieve Dayton Police Officers of non-enforcement duties so officers can quickly respond to emergency and criminal calls.

* Assist with traffic control at accidents, fires, crime scenes, emergencies, natural disasters and special events.

* Check homes of vacationing residents.

* Increase the visibility of the Dayton Police Department to deter crime in neighborhoods.

* Report street lights out and street or traffic signs damaged or missing.

* Use vehicles and police radios to enhance patrol abilities and to provide communication with dispatch in the event police intervention is required.

NAO Don’ts:

* Carry weapons

* Have any powers to arrest or detain

* Assist in dangerous situations

The NAO program is used to assist local police forces, dedicating time to ensuring the safety of and serving the citizens of the Dayton community. In order to be a NAO volunteer you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid Ohio driver’s license, have no misdemeanors related to violence or felonies, commit to 16 hours a month, and complete training at the Dayton Police Academy. 

Not sure why you should volunteer? NAO volunteers will receive:

* Training by Dayton Police instructors at no cost

* Uniforms are provided

* Gain valuable insight into police and community relations

* An opportunity to take an active role in your neighborhood

* Personal satisfaction of making a difference in your community

For training details and more information please visit Dayton Police Volunteers. Whether you are looking for a new hobby to dive into, want to participate in day-to-day activities that reflect the techniques and skills of police officers, or simply interested in widening your knowledge, the Dayton Law Enforcement Experience has a class for you.

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