BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– As violent crime continues to plague the capital city, the Baton Rouge Police Department has high hopes that bringing back the Citizens Academy program will bring new beginnings.

The goal is for this program to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. “We do know how important it is to have the community involved in our daily activity is beneficial to us to solving cases,” says L’Jean McKneely with BRPD.

You need to be 18 years or older and pass a background check to join Citizens Academy. Participants will tour BRPD facilities and meet with offerers for six weeks to better understand what they do daily. “They could take that information back out to their community and share that up, share the conversation of the efforts that we’re doing in Baton Rouge,” says McKneely.

It’s the latest effort by city leaders to curb violence in the city. BRPD says it will inform the police department of the community’s needs and inform the community of their options. “It’s just having the resources available to you to where you could put that to work and putting that to work builds a better neighborhood, builds a better overall community, and builds a better Baton Rouge,” says McKneely.

The first Citizens Academy class will begin on January 25th. BRPD says interest is high, so they are unsure if the course will be available this fall or become an annual program.