CHELMSFORD – The police department hosted 42 children from fifth to eighth graders at a week-long youth police academy last month.
The first Chelmsford Police Youth Police Academy was held 11-15 July.
The daily program included nutrition and physical fitness classes from Best Fitness, classes from Chelmsford Police Officers on CPR, radar, drones and impaired driving, and classes from Chelmsford Police Detectives on crime scene analysis, fingerprinting and cyber security.
The Massachusetts State Police Air Wing and Explosive Ordinance Disposal units, as well as the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council’s K-9 unit, motorcycle unit and SWAT team attended and conducted demonstrations.
Academy leaders also mixed in practice with drill and lineup in formations and activities like Capture the Flag to keep the cadets moving. The week concluded with a community service project as cadets and academy leaders cleaned up trash at Route 110 Chelmsford Little League Complex.
“This academy is an absolute home run for us because a positive interaction with the police force can change someone for life,” said Academy Director Sgt. Nikolaus Ziminsky. “This gives our officers the opportunity to have positive and even fun interactions with community members and gives community members a chance to learn about their police department. This type of relationship building will pay off over the years.”
Julia Salerno, 12, said she hadn’t had much contact with police officers before attending the academy and learned they are nicer than she thought and do a lot of work in the community.
“It’s not just about catching bad guys,” said Leah Hamelin, 13. “They help people a lot, and often their work is more about helping people in the community.”
Hamelin and Salerno said they enjoyed the SWAT demonstration because they were able to pick up and examine some of the team’s equipment, such as helmets, vests and night vision cameras. They also liked the motorcycle unit, the bomb squad, and the K-9 demonstrations.
“This has been as successful as it is because Chelmsford Police officers are buying their time and volunteering,” said Lt. Gary Hannagan, who is also President of the Chelmsford Police Athletic League, which runs sporting opportunities and events such as film night in the community throughout the year. “This shows the commitment these officers have to the youth and the community.”
The Chelmsford Police Department would like to thank Team Flo Jui Jitsu, Christianson Transportation, Zesty’s Pizza, Chelmsford Public Schools, Center Sports and the Front Line Initiative for their support.
“This week could not have happened without the selfless dedication of our officers who organized and ran the show, even with no previous experience of running such an ambitious academy,” said Chief James Spinney. “Citizenship is a priority for Chelmsford Police Department and this academy has been a great opportunity to build relationships with community members and create two-way communication between police and youth.”