The Fitchburg Police Department is recruiting for an upcoming 10-week-long Citizens Academy.

The free course is designed to provide knowledge and hands-on learning experience of law enforcement, including current gang and drug trends, traffic stops, crime scene investigations, emergency vehicle operations and defensive tactics, according to a news release from the department.

The program is designed for Fitchburg residents “curious about how law enforcement and police department works and interested to learn how to handle police tactics,” according to the release. Participants can observe and experience day-to-day operations at the Fitchburg Police Department and shadow officers during patrol shifts. Officers will teach proper handling of firearms and some participants “will be selected to shoot firearms.”

The academy will be held from 6-9:30 p.m. Thursdays from Sept. 7 to Nov. 9. The class the first week of October will be held Saturday, Oct. 7, instead. A graduation ceremony and banquet will be Nov. 9, and participants will be awarded a completion certificate.

Applications will be open until May 31. People can download the applications from the police department website or pick up at the police department. A background check will be conducted on all applicants. They will be notified if they are selected to participate the week of July 3.

– Helu Wang