By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Kevin Freud, a Shrewsbury High School junior, has wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement for as long as he can remember. Through an application process, he was chosen to participate in the Massachusetts State Police Student Trooper Program. The American Legion, Department of Massachusetts, Inc., sponsors this program in cooperation with the Massachusetts State Police Academy every year.
“I had to fill out an application and write an essay detailing why I wanted to join…” Freud explained. “My guidance counselor, Mrs. Lussier, also had to attest to my good academic standing.”
Because Kevin wants to study law enforcement in college, he thought that attending this program would be a good way for him to get a taste of what it would really be like and decide if he is on the right path. His grandfather is retired from the New York Police Department and has always wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Only 200 students ages 15-17 were selected to participate. Half of those attend one of two Monday-through-Friday training programs. Kevin attended the first session from July 11-15 at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree.
The program aims to forge relationships between the police and youth by exposing them to the demands of police training and giving them a better understanding of the intense responsibilities faced by members of law enforcement.
“The major and captain explained to us that the next few days would be both mentally and physically challenging,” Freud said. “The atmosphere was a very paramilitary one and some of the people could not handle it. It was a very authentic experience and eight people actually left before the end of the first day.”
Participants arose at 5:30 a.m. and went to bed at 10:30 p.m. daily. The week included an evacuation driving course at Fort Devens, (with police cruisers and sirens); classes discussing the history of the State Police from the Civil War era; different fields of the state police and laws that affect teenagers; a ropes course; team building exercises; leadership training; crime scene investigations; and an athletic competition. There was a graduation ceremony on the last day.
While the program was challenging, Kevin persevered. He said it made him even more certain that it is what he wants to do for his career.
“For me, being able to participate in the Massachusetts State Police Student Trooper Program was truly an awesome experience,” he said. “I got so much out of it. It exceeded my expectations. The Massachusetts State Police did a great job and helped us realize how well trained they are. I have a new respect for what they do.”