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Police Academy Opens Window to Their Jobs

January 23, 2019

By Stephen Landry

slandry@sentinelandenteprise

ASHBURNHAM -- It’s time to meet the police. Residents are welcome to attend the department’s first Citizen’s Police Academy.

The purpose of the 10-week program is to foster better communication between citizens and police force through education and awareness, according to police Lt. Chris Conrad.

“Given the culture of what’s been going on, I think it’s important for citizens to have a good understanding of what our job is and what our functions are, not just protection but community service,” Conrad said. “I think a better way to get that understanding is to invite them in to this program to get every aspect of what our job is.”

The program, which is open to anyone 18 years and older, is not intended to train participants to perform law enforcement duties, but to provide an insight into the profession, according to Conrad. Because class size is limited, he said Ashburnham residents and business owners would have first right of refusal on a first-come basis. Due to the nature of material being covered, Conrad said there would be a criminal background investigation completed on each applicant.

During the course, participants will learn about the structure of the department, how to become a police officer, and how the dispatcher system works.

“In the following weeks we’ll include an investigations module that our detectives will teach, we’ll study motor vehicle laws and hold mock traffic stops so residents can see what is done and why they’re done the way they are,” Conrad said. “From there, we’ll touch on the school resource officer program, and then we’ll look at the court process. It’s kind of an A-to-Z of what we do and why we do it.”

Conrad said the program was also a chance for the town’s police officers to get feedback from the community they serve.

“We want to hear what the public thinks. If we have 10 people who ask the same question about what we do, then maybe we’re not doing a good enough job explaining it,” Conrad said. “And I think (the program) is just a good way for us to interact with the community.”

Conrad said he expected all age levels would benefit from attending the academy.

“The older generation is going to maybe see certain things we deal with, and the younger generation will better understand why we do certain things,” Conrad said. “I think everyone is going to be able to take something away from it.”

Conrad said the department had wanted to host a Citizen’s Police Academy for several years, but it wasn’t until this year that everything had fallen into place. He said he hoped the academy would become an annual program with the department.

The weekly classes, which will last no more than three hours, will be held on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., with the first class scheduled for March 7. Anyone wishing to attend can pick up an application at the Ashburnham Police Department at 99 Central Street. Applications must be turned in to Chief Loring Barrett by Feb. 22 to be considered.

Follow Landry on Twitter @stephenlandry17

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