Gloucester Twp. PD Provides Officers’ Perspective At Weekly Citizens’ Academy

By: Nazmul Noyim, Follow South Jersey Intern

Gloucester Township residents participating in the GTPD Citizens’ Police Academy learn about Internal Affairs. Photo credit: Nazmul Noyim.

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) organized a “Citizens’ Police Academy,” (CPA) holding classes every Thursday from January 19 through April 27. The purpose of the course is to give an in-depth look at the police department and insight to each unit. 

“We often get misrepresented based on how the media portrays us,” said Lieutenant Melissa Cappanna. “These classes let people come in and see an officer’s perspective on what goes on versus what the media or social media perspective.” 

The classes are open to anyone who fills out an application on the website and goes through a background check prior to the first class. Also, individuals that would like to become a volunteer must attend the classes. Currently, there are 19 volunteers in the department. 

Week 5 was all about the Internal Affairs (IA) unit, and Bernie Dougherty, Professional Standards Unit Commander, lectured the group on handling misconduct, rule violations, and complaints against an officer.

The speaker informed the class that any violations or misconducts by an officer immediately goes to the prosecutor. However, there is an investigation done internally to determine appropriate disciplinary action. 

Body cameras are the biggest tool to help investigate an incident. All police officers are obligated to turn on their cameras for any lawful stops, detaining a suspect, or any police investigation. When an officer forgets to turn their own camera on, their partener can start theirs and both cameras will begin recording.

Officers at Internal Affairs get selected by the chief based on their integrity, years of experience, and no history of misconduct.

“I really don’t think IA mishandles a complaint or misconduct,” said Capanna. “When there is an incident involving an officer that gets viewed by multiple supervisors, someone will notice the misconduct and it will rarely be mishandled.”

Every week in these sessions attendees get a detailed learning experience about each unit in the department, and the police perspective of the job. Often, CPA members get hands-on experience, and in the last class there will be a firearms simulator at the training center in Blackwood.

To receive a Citizens Police Academy application or to ask any questions, call the Gloucester Township Police Department Community Relations Bureau  at (856)374-5712 or email

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