Fauquier NAACP President Ellsworth Weaver and member Michelle Shanks are among the 2021 graduates of Warrenton Police Department’s first Community Police Academy. Fourteen local residents received certificates at a ceremony which took place Tuesday night, October 26, at the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Company Banquet Room. Deputy Chief Tim Carter emceed the event.
The Community Police Academy (CPA) is a national program being implemented across the nation as part of a strategy to allow citizens to develop relationships between law enforcement and community members. The program was funded locally by the PATH Foundation.
The Warrenton PD began accepting applications for the seven-week program in March. Classes began in September and met one night per week. Classes included lectures from members of the law enforcement community as well as interactive activities. As part of the program, each graduate made a commitment to volunteer at least 10 hours a year with the Department.
Police Chief Mike Kochis said the program was designed in order for citizens to become more familiar with the inner workings of the Department, and for the Department to develop a better understanding of the community it serves. “We need to know we have partners in our community,” Chief Kochis said. “We want to build relationships.” He thanked all participants for their commitment to their community.
Betty Compton, Volunteer Coordinator at the Warrenton PD, received the Volunteer of the Year Award and was praised by Chief Kochis as being the one who really made the Academy happen.
Dr. Weaver, who is also a member of the Warrenton PD’s Community Action Team (formed by the Department in 2020 to help foster trust between the community and law enforcement officials), made remarks on behalf of the graduating class. He spoke of the importance of trust in building positive relationships between police and the public, and warned that “we are getting close to a brink of destruction as far as this nation is concerned.”
Below are excerpts from Dr. Weaver’s remarks.
“But the question came to my mind…and I remember the Chief mentioning some objectives, and I raised the question of how are we going to do that? How are we going to reach these people, reach the community? And the answer the Chief gave was: 'Through trust.'”
“But, in order to build a relationship, you have to have understanding. You cannot have trust without understanding…We are at that point where our citizens need to understand what our police department is all about, what it represents, how the community is benefitted.”
“The class, the school, everything is great. But what’s our purpose? What are we doing? How are we reaching those people that we are trying to be transparent to and have them, what? Understand that they can trust.”
“What does it take to tie it back together? What does it take to hold together? It takes our hearts and sincere love for each other. I didn’t say like me. I said love me. I don’t care if you like me. But I do care if you love me.”
(A video of Dr. Weaver's full speech may be viewed here.)