17 Graduate Citizen’s Police Academy
ASHBURNHAM — After spending the last 10 weeks learning about how the Police Department operates, 17 residents became a part of the first graduating class in the town’s Citizen’s Police Academy on May 9.
The class celebrated the accomplishment with officers and some town officials last Thursday, including Town Administrator Heather Budrewicz.
“The academy is an opportunity for people to sign up and get an inside idea of how police officers are trained and some of the things we deal with on a regular basis,” said Police Chief Loring Barrett Jr. “They get an opportunity to see what the department and the dispatch center offers the community, and what type of training and education level they have.”
It’s a “mini-police academy,” said Barrett.
He said the program is an opportunity for the Police Department to promote better communication with the citizens they serve. By providing an education and fostering awareness, Barrett hopes residents leave the program with a greater understanding of the duties within the department.
“It’s a good community tool,” said Barrett. “It gives people the opportunity to come in and ask questions and to see what public safety people deal with.”
Barrett said the program focused on a broad array of subjects from criminal law to constitutional law, domestic violence, and more. All of the classes were taught by officers and related personnel.
District Court Judge Arthur F. Hailey and Clerk Magistrate Whitney J. Brown also helped with the program and taught participants about the court system, said Barrett.
Beginning in March, participants attended the program every week prior to graduation. The original plan was to have the program last no more than two hours but residents were so involved that they typically ran for nearly three hours, said Barrett.
At the end of each class, participants were asked to give an evaluation to the department. Barrett said the feedback was excellent.
“Everything that I have seen so far has been very positive,” said Barrett. “This gives us an opportunity to get some insight and information for the next program. People were very impressed and satisfied with what they got out of it.”
When Barrett was the Hubbardston Chief of Police, he held a similar program and he said he was excited to bring the idea to Ashburnham.
Barrett said the Police Department is looking forward to providing the program again next year. Right now, he said they are looking for potential participants and will likely start accepting applications at the start of next year.
He also said there has been interest in setting up a junior police academy in the summer.
Barrett said he hopes to have more participation next year, and encourages any residents over the age of 18 to sign up.
“It’s very relaxing, there’s no stress,” said Barrett. “It’s all about coming in, having a little bit of fun, and learning some things that you don’t necessarily see in everyday life.”