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Atlanta-filmed 'Ride Along' tops box office: How you can ride along too

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Atlanta Police Department off-duty officers were on hand during the Underground Atlanta filming for Tim Story's "Ride Along" box office hit, and their on-duty counterparts are on hand for anyone who wants to really ride along with cops after seeing the Ice Cube and Kevin Hart cop-buddy comedy. And based upon a Jan. 20 CNN box office report, the APD might see lots of people who want to take a ride with a cop, since 41.2 million in ticket sales was realized on opening weekend by the popular film.

The Atlanta PD has been allowing ride alongs long before James Payton (Ice Cube) invited his future brother-in-law Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) to prove his love for his sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) by riding along with him on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta. And they don't require you be a celebrity to get to go on one either. But they do have some criteria you must meet.

You must be a resident of the Metropolitan Atlanta area, be at least 21 years of age, not have any felony convictions and have had no misdemeanor convictions within one year of applying for participation in the citizens academy.

Participation in the Atlanta Police Department Citizens Police Academy will not only gain you a chance to ride along with a law enforcement officer, it will allow participation in classes that teach you about crime scene investigation, inform you about how to avoid identity theft, as well as educate you on Atlanta police criminal procedures and all about their "see something, say something" program, according to the Web site of Atlanta City Council member Carla Smith of District 1 Atlanta.

To apply for acceptance into the next citizen's academy for a chance to ride along with an Atlanta patrol officer, Sgt. Chad Hannula at (404) 546-7511 or (404) 209-5250 or by email to channula@atlantaga.gov.

Those interested in an Ice Cube, Kevin Hart type of ride along need not apply; however, as it isn't likely you will be getting to watch a local cop smack around people he encounters while on his tour of duty.

For those too young to participate in the citizens academy in Atlanta or in another city, there is always the opportunity to participate in a ride along if you become a member of the youth police explorer program for your town. Check with your local law enforcement agency about this at-risk youth program, which gives teens the opportunity to learn the same types of data adults do in the citizens academy program.

And if you haven't seen Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along the movie, it is now playing at the AMC Fork and Screen in Buckhead, AMC North Dekalb Mall 16, AMC Parkway Pointe 15, AMC Phipps Plaza 14, Atlantic Station Stadium 16, and Starlight Six Drive-In. For exact movie times check out Movieclock.com.

Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner Radell Smith has a degree in criminal justice and behavioral forensics, and she has went on way too many ride-alongs.

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