Have you ever wondered what a day without policemen would be like in Laguna Beach?
It doesn’t take much of a stretch to think of a few scenarios that might play out, should this actually ever take place. I think it’s safe to say that over time, history has proven there to be somewhat of a gap in the communication between citizens and police, and it seems that perhaps Lieutenant Darin Lenyi of the thinks the same way too. He created the Laguna Beach Citizen Police Academy.
"The academy's goal is to help the citizens of Laguna Beach have a better understanding of the inner workings of its police department," Lenyi said.
Laguna Beach Police Chief Paul Workman had this to say about Lenyi:
“Since 1998, Lieutenant Lenyi along with Ross Fallah at his side have unselfishly organized 17 classes. I have to tell you that this is a big thing to take on, and a lot of extra work. We all have plenty of work to do already, and so for Darin to want to do this, is a labor of love. He really cares about the program and believes in it, and he keeps putting it together year after year,” said Workman.
"Police get bombarded with a lot of negative things, and this class helps give citizens a different point of view ... most people who come into this profession are doing it out of a genuine and sincere feeling towards trying to help the public and trying to have a career that has meaning," Workman added.
Lenyi started his career at age 19 after becoming a Police Explorer graduate, then police cadet. In 1986, he started as a beach officer in Laguna, became a reserve officer, then full-time policeman, eventually becoming Lieutenant.
"The guys on the street have the dangerous jobs," Lenyi remarked. "Anything could happen at any moment. You just never know what to expect. I want to let citizens of Laguna Beach experience a little of what it's like to be a police officer, and see what they encounter from day to day ... having more knowledge allows citizens to better navigate the resources that the department offers as well."
The academy has been in existence since 1998, and many citizens have graduated the program. Twenty-three graduated on Thursday, and were presented a certificate and plaque. Family and friends gathered at Tivoli Terrace to look on, and enjoy a nice dinner hosted by David Sanford of Doctor’s Ambulance.
The graduates I spoke with Thursday were very proud that they had gone through the program.
"I wish everyone could go through this academy," remarked Darrin Joiris. "It exposed us to so many things that we never even think about. Officers are just normal people, but are incredibly dedicated to their work and the safety of people in this town. Ultimately, all they want is for everyone to make it home safe, day or night ... I feel like the academy really did change me and I highly recommend it to anyone."
For information on the Citizen Police Academy and upcoming registration, contact Lieutenant Darin Lenyi at email@example.com.