Step behind the headlines

See what it’s like to be a cop in Tacoma

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

The “mean streets of Tacoma” might be more than a metaphor.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a police officer on the ever-unpredictable streets of Tacoma?

Ever wish you could know first-hand how the Tacoma Police Department works?

The Citizens’ Academy is your opportunity to look beyond the headlines and assumptions.

It all begins on Wednesdays in September

You just might change your mind, or at the very least, appreciate in a new way what law enforcement does – and has to deal with – as they encounter aspects and needs of our community few of us could imagine.

The Citizens’ Academy highlights the Tacoma Police Department’s Community-Oriented Policing philosophy, which strengthens the bond between community members and police officers as we all, from every background, work together to solve community issues of varying complexity.

The purpose of the Citizens’ Academy is to create a growing core of well-informed community members with direct experience of their police department, and who can serve as ambassadors who share their experiences with law enforcement with other community members.

From the website:

During three-hour sessions (6-9 PM), held on Wednesdays in the fall for 13 weeks, the Citizens’ Academy offers City of Tacoma residents, its employees, and Tacoma community and business leaders an up-close and personal look at the way the Tacoma Police Department is organized and an opportunity to learn more about its:

Operations Bureau Activities

Patrol, Traffic, Community Policing, Homeless Outreach Team, School Resource, Explorers, Gangs, Marine Services, K-9, SWAT, Special Response Team, Search and Rescue, Designated Crisis Responder, Bomb Squad and South Sound 911 Dispatch.

Investigations Bureau Activities

Violent Crimes including Homicide/Assault, Special Assaults and Sex Offenders. Major Crimes including Special Victims, Domestic Violence, Child Abduction Response and Child Abuse. Career Crimes including Property Crimes and Financial Crimes. Also presented are Forensic Services and Special Investigations (Narcotics and Vice).

Administrative Services Bureau Activities

Internal Affairs, Public Information Officer, Hiring Unit, Chaplaincy, Training and Jail.

Each session at the Citizens’ Academy can accommodate 30-36 community members over the age of 18. Instructors are officers and personnel from within the Tacoma Police Department and other law enforcement-related agencies who are department-recognized subject matter experts.

The Citizens’ Academy first launched in 1987 and is coordinated through the Tacoma Police Department’s Operations Bureau. More than 1,400 community members have graduated from the Citizens’ Academy.

Application Process and Schedule

The next academy will begin September 7, 2022 and run through December 7, 2022 (with no class November 23, the day before Thanksgiving). The classes will be held Wednesday evenings at the City of Tacoma Fleet Operations classroom, 3639 South Pine Street, adjacent to Tacoma Police Department headquarters. In addition to a completed application, you must include a scanned (or photocopied) copy of your Washington state driver’s license.

Completed applications (with a copy of your Washington State driver’s license) can be submitted via email to or can be mailed to:

Tacoma Police Department

Attn. Lieutenant Still

3701 S. Pine Street

Tacoma, WA 98409

If you have questions, please contact Lt. Daniel Still at (253) 591-5697.