Orleans Citizen Police Academy Chronicles - Week 1

Overview of the nine-week program...

The Orleans Police Department recently commenced its annual Citizens Police Academy.  This year Chief Scott MacDonald invited Cape Cod Today to embed a reporter in the nine-to-ten week program and to cover the content in a weekly series.  Today's column is the first in that series.

The program meets at the brand new, state-of-the-art Orleans Police Station.  Program coordinator Officer Patrick Cronin proudly announced this is the largest class the academy has hosted thus far.  Extra seats were made available due to the more spacious training facility the department enjoys in its multi-purpose room, which is just off the main lobby.

Following a brief introduction by Chief MacDonald, Officer Cronin introduced himself and provided an overview of the weeks ahead.  

Office Patrick Cronin is a nine-year veteran of the Orleans Police Department.  He is a thirty-four-year old graduate of Curry College.  All Orleans police officers are required to hold a Bachelor's degree prior to being hired by the OPD.

Once an officer is hired, he or she must then undergo a series of physical, psychological and proficiency screening tests as well as a deep background check.  Candidates who pass all of these screenings - and who are not transferring from another police department - are sent to one of the state's police training academies for six months of intensive instruction.  Once an officer graduates from the academy, he or she will undergo at least ninety days of intensive field training under the supervision of an OPD training officer.

The cost to put a candidate through the police academy is about $50,000, which includes tuition, salary, uniforms and other necessities.  

Officer Cronin reported that, when he joined the OPD, he was one of over 300 candidates for the position.  Recent openings have attracted approximately 20 applications, most likely due to the changing work conditions for law enforcement officers, including recent incidents here on the Cape such as the killing of Yarmouth Police K9 Sergeant Sean Gannon and the shooting of two Falmouth officers last spring.  Orleans is currently in the process of filling as many as five positions.

Program Overview

Officer Cronin provided a week-by-week overview of the Citizen Police Academy content.  In addition to sessions on the laws that guide police activities,  participants will learn about dispatch, domestic violence, traffic enforcement and more.  They will also participate in live-action activities such as situational simulators, a K9 demonstration and general instruction on police procedures.  Officer Cronin mentioned something about a live-action program where participants will be armed with a paint ball gun and placed in role-playing activities on use of force against police officers portraying criminals.

Tour of OPD Facilities

Citizens received an extensive tour of the Orleans Police Station and learned how the building was designed to maximize efficiency as well as officer and citizen safety.  The group learned about the physical procedures involved when a person under arrest is brought into the facility - from the moment they arrive in the cruiser until they are safely placed in a cell. 

The group learned about the different chemical contaminants and biohazards officers encounter in their daily patrols - and why there is a full decontamination setup in the "sally port" that an officer can use before he or she even enters the building if their clothing or body has come in contact with such contaminants.  

Coming up next...

Next week's session will include a briefing on criminal and constitutional law as well as court procedure.  

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