Southborough Police Department conducts junior academy
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – Thirty-five boys and girls ages 12 to 16 now have a better understanding of law enforcement after attending the Southborough Police Department’s 15th annual Junior Police Academy, conducted July 22 to 26 at Trottier Middle School. The academy was again run by Officer Kevin Landry.
“The information we teach them is condensed in five days, but it’s pretty much the same as what you’d learn at a real academy in four to six months,” Landry said.
Each day started with a morning inspection followed by drills and marching. Then various activities were performed to build teamwork and communication skills.
A highlight of the Monday session was a physical fitness test, when the cadets ran laps, and then did sit-ups and push-ups. The test was repeated Friday to determine whether they improved.
“On Monday, they think they’re doing this by themselves,” Landry said. “But by Friday, they have a lot of other kids cheering them on to push themselves a little bit further. The Friday scores always improve by the extra motivation to do one more sit-up or push-up, or a second or two faster on the track.”
Many of the cadets had attended the academy in previous years, so new activities are regularly added to keep the experience fresh for everyone. New to the academy’s second day was the police procedure of searching a school for an active shooter. The cadets learned how the procedure has evolved since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999 to now.
“When a school shooting happened back then, the protocol was for law enforcement to surround the property, create a perimeter, don’t let anyone in, and wait for the SWAT team to show up,” Landry explained. “That has all changed since Columbine. Now, officers’ response is to go to a school shooting, wait for another person to back you up, and then go in and eliminate the threat.”
The cadets were taught the diamond formation, in which squads of four searched the school halls and classrooms.
“We teach the diamond formation, which is optimal,” Landry said, “but certainly if you have two or three officers, go in and start searching the school.”
The importance of teamwork was explored again Wednesday, when squads competed in an obstacle course.
“The squads get to be good, friendly rivalries,” Landry said.
Also on Wednesday, the cadets learned the value of public speaking on a topic of their choice.
“Public speaking is an important part of police work; you have to be able to articulate to a crowd,” Landry noted. “We give them the opportunity to talk about something they enjoy, get up in front of everyone and get over that fear. By the third day, they’re more comfortable with their academy mates.”
The cadets were rewarded for their hard work with a field trip Thursday to Canobie Lake Park. As in past years, Landry warned them that if he saw a cadet alone, then they all would leave immediately.
“I leave it up to them to figure how to include every single person in the academy,” he said. “To this day, we’ve never come home early from a field trip.”
Landry enjoys observing the cadets’ progress leading up to graduation Friday afternoon.
“It’s incredible to watch them,” he said. “At graduation, family members and friends watch these boys and girls do something that they probably never thought that they could do – march in a straight line without talking and without skipping a beat.”
Other academy instructors were Lt. Sean James, Detective Sean McCarthy, Officer David Maida and Rick Mattoli, administrative assistant to the chief.
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