St. Paul residents can get an insider view of the police department, special units and use of force issues in a citizen's police academy starting in April.

The academy is taking applications through April 1 for the 11-week course, which will meet from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from April 26 to July 5. Applicants must be 21 or older, and pass a background check. The academy is free.

The curriculum includes an overview of the department's structure and presentations by SWAT, K-9, mounted patrol and other specialized units. Department officials will discuss a range of issues, from investigations to use of force, and participants will also engage in some officer training exercises, including "dynamic encounter scenario," which simulates potentially life-threatening encounters with armed suspects.

To apply, call Don Luna at 651-266-5583.