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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Citizen police academy graduation

Milford graduates 1st ‘ambassadors’

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— Contrary to popular belief, cops really don’t spend their day wolfing down doughnuts; red cars aren’t targeted for speeding tickets; and, no, police don’t dole out traffic tickets to fill quotas.
That is according to Police Chief Keith Mello, who debunked common myths surrounding police for the friends and families attending the city’s first Citizen Police Academy graduation ceremony.
Mello said the 28 citizens who completed the 11-week course and came up with the list of common police myths will now serve as “ambassadors” for the Police Department.
“The goal of the program was to give citizens a better understanding of what we do,” Mello said.
The program allowed civilians to get out on the firing range for a gun safety program, learn the basics of how police conduct criminal investigations and take part in simulated arrests.
In addition, officers taught citizens cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the basics of the criminal justice system and how different specialized units work. The Citizen Police Academy was a logical extension of the department’s community policing program, he said.
With similar programs finding success in Orange, Bridgeport and Hamden, as well as in other communities throughout the country, Officer Vaughan Dumas and Mello decided to bring an academy to Milford.
The Police Department serves as a regional police academy, helping to train police recruits from 12 communities, making the citizens program a logical fit, Mello said.
Ron Suhanosky, owner of Val’s Deli, which is about a block from the police station, said with each new class he sees a fresh set of faces stopping by his Boston Post Road store.
Suhanosky said he decided to sign up for the course to get a sense of what the cadets go through in the police academy. Even through simulated situations of pulling a car over and having to decide whether to fire on a suspect wielding a gun got his heart racing, Suhanosky said.
“If I was out there, I’d call for backup like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “I tell you, it takes somebody special to be a police officer.”


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