Did you know that the Hamiton Police are required to wear a mylar vest underneath their uniform shirt for the duration of their shift? Did you know that if you use your cell phone to call 911, the call will go through the State Police first, which will delay the call for a few minutes until it can be traced to the right location? Did you know that a large majority of Hamilton Police officers were born and raised in Hamilton or have ties to Hamilton? Did you know that a 911 call will never be ignored, even if the caller hangs up before completing the call?
These are just a few of the things that 11 citizens of Hamilton found out when they attended the first Citizens Police Academy which was run by the Hamilton Police for ten weeks this past fall. Besides the facts stated above, we learned about the history of policing around the world, in this country and in Hamilton.
We heard the history and background of the police officers who were involved in the academy. We had a tour of the police department, the 911 operation and facility, a vehicle overview of police and fire apparatus, talked about community policing, emergency preparedness, booking room procedures (including having our fingerprints taken,) how criminal investigations are done, crime prevention, drug investigations, domestic violence information, inspected and handled firearms, and watched a police dog find hidden marijauna.
In short, all about the Police Department and what they actually do and how they work. (Not your TV version.) The participants in the Academy were varied, five women and six men, from all age groups including two teenagers, and several senior citizens. Each one of us also got to go on a two hour ride-along with a police officer to observe the officer in their daily duties and learn patrol procedures, radar demonstration, traffic control and the like. We were required to wear a ballistic vest and seat belt at all times. This was the highlight of the academy for most of us.
Given the tension and mistrust that existed several years ago between the police and the citizens of Hamilton, this was a wonderful experience and gave us much needed insight into the lives and work of the police. Not only did we learn a lot about how our police department operates, we also became friends with the officers who led each session and especially with Sgt Stephen Walsh who was in charge of this program.
Each one of the officers volunteered their personal time to be a part of the academy. Our thanks go out to Lt. Scott Janes, Sgt. Stephen Trepanier, Officer Andrew Neill, Sgt Kenneth Nagy, Anne Marie Cullen, Dep.Fire Chief Brand, Officer Joe Achadinaha, Officer Michael Girolimon, Officer Karen Wallace, Officer Kent Richards, and especially to Chief Russell Stevens, whose brainchild this was.
On November 16, we graduated with a Certificate of Completion, a T-shirt with the Hamilton Police Logo, a group picture an LED flashlight followed by a graduation party with a cake that bore the logo of the department. We all left feeling sad that it was over, but glad that we were the pioneers in this program.
Chief Stevens plans to offer this Academy on a yearly basis. I hope that Hamilton citizens will give much thought to signing up for it. Watch for announcements in the coming year. Thank you Chief Stevens and the Hamilton Police Department for giving me this opportunity.
24 Lee Park Hamilton