Citizens Learn Policing

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A Philadelphia police officer demonstrated to a group of "citizen trainees" what it feels like to be shot with a non-lethal bean bag shotgun round. It hurts, as you can probably guess, and it's amazing to Cecil Nichols.

"That's unbelievable. I couldn't have took it. I couldn't have let him do it," said Nichols, who is involved with the Citizens Police Academy.

Nichols is learning that a lot about being a police officer is tough. He's among the dozen or so members of the inaugural class of the Philadelphia Citizens' Police Academy.

Volunteers also got to watch a demonstration of a drug raid.

Organizers hope it will give the students a better idea of just how difficult, and how dangerous, being a police officer is.

"A lot of folks think police are just out there to write tickets and make arrests," said Chief David Edwards. "And through these classes, we hope to change the thinking that people have."

Officers say this first class is a good one.

"These students are wonderful," said Margie Bell. "They're enjoying the class, and they're learning a lot."

Cecil Nichols says he's learning a lot, and he'll never look at a police officer the same way again.

"It's unbelievable. They go through a lot of things, and it's very stressful. People need to know," Nichols said.

Officers in Philadelphia say more people will know, through taking this class.

The Citizens' Police Academy will graduate the current class on Apr. 7.