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South San Francisco Police Department Creates Police Academy Class for Gatepath Students

News for 01.25.18
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By Danielle Azzalino, Gatepath’s Director of Adult Services

“The Gatepath Police Academy, initiated by the South San Francisco Police Department, not only provided Gatepath students with insight to their law enforcement community officers and what they do, it also provided South San Francisco police officers with an opportunity to get to know and understand our community members better.” – Corporal Fahmida Murphy

We are very grateful to the South San Francisco Police Department (SSFPD) for working with our Community Access Site Supervisor Norma Hernandez in creating the Gatepath Police Academy -- a curriculum specifically adapted for the adults with developmental disabilities in Gatepath’s Community Access program. For six weeks, police officers visited Norma’s classroom in South San Francisco to teach the students about what officers do on a day-to-day basis.


Norma worked closely with Corporal Jason Pfarr and Sergeant Ken Chetcuti to design the Gatepath Police Academy Class. According to Norma, the curriculum they developed was modified and adapted to the special needs of the students.  They learned about community relations, traffic, investigations, bicycle patrol, K-9, SWAT, and command staff in an interactive classroom with demonstrations.  The officers gave the class an overview of safety tips and showed students how to use community resources.  At the end of each session, the students had opportunities to ask the officers questions.

To recognize the successful completion of the course, each student received certificates, specialized Gatepath Policy Academy shirts, cake, and a tour of the police department. Since the program ended, Norma said the police officers attend events at Gatepath with the students who participated in the class.   “At least eight officers attended our talent show. To thank them, the students and I brought holiday cheer to our friends at the police department by stopping by to sing carols and bring them goodies,” Norma said.


Corporal Fahmida Murphy, one of the police department instructors that taught a class, said the experience was rewarding and enjoyable. “Gatepath students and staff were engaging, genuinely excited, and extremely welcoming to the members of the SSFPD,” she said.

We are thankful to Corporal Pfarr, Sergeant Chetcuti and Corporal Murphy for partnering with Norma to create this new program and bringing their staff to teach. It’s a perfect example of how fostering strong relationships in the community and continuing to provide a space for acceptance and understanding, can create a fully inclusive community.

For more information about our Community Access program, or to learn how your organization can partner with Gatepath, please email Brandon Allen, or call us at 650-259-0169.