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A New Point of View

Civilian Academy

Paxton and Rutland residents shared what they learned shortly before receiving certificates to graduate from the free Civilian Police Academy at the Paxton Police Department on Dec. 12. Participants took part in weekly classes covering many aspects of law enforcement over the nine-week course, which started in early September.

The program included a class on domestic violence, taught by Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney, a survivor of domestic violence. She is the director of the criminal justice graduate and undergraduate programs at Anna Maria College.

“The class educated students on the cycle of violence within a relationship, police responsiveness to domestic calls, the special considerations when a child is present on the scene, and how to tell if they are potentially in a violent or abusive relationship,” Pinckney said. “Students asked about how to help friends or family members who are in said relationships. We discussed the importance of proper police intervention, protection orders, and other legal means of protection and survival.”

Pinckney said many students were interested in the restraining order process, approaches for dealing with offenders, and resources that are available to victims.

Academy student Brett Wilson, of Rutland, a criminal justice major with a focus in domestic violence at Anna Maria College, grew up around domestic violence. As a result of that experience, he hopes to become a police officer in Worcester.

“My sister has bipolar disorder,” Willson said. “My parents divorced and became argumentative. So, it became parent vs. kid. And it hit home.”

In another part of the course, Webster Police K9 Officer Aaron Suss brought in two dogs, a 4-year-old German Shepherd named Bandit, and 4-month-old Dutch Shepherd named Bravo. Suss did a Powerpoint presentation and an outside live demonstration where Bandit had to apprehend a suspect, which was professional sport decoy Ken Pelc, and a short track where Bandit had to search for him and locate him, as he was hiding in some brush.

“I had some good feedback from the class, especially after I did the live demonstrations,” Suss said. “I explained how they detect drugs, how they search for evidence, track suspects, and how they are used to gain control and compliance from a suspect when they are located.”

Suss brought Bravo to show them the difference between a young pup that has the qualities to be a police dog versus a house pet. Bravo showed the class some of his beginning bite work on a puppy sleeve, Suss said. He talked about how dogs can be used for solving things other than crimes.

“I do go into a little bit of how dogs are used by other professions,” Suss said. “Some examples are: service dogs that help identify when their owners are going to experience a seizure, search and rescue dogs, and detector canine’s that are used by the movie industry to help detect pirated movie tapes, and the extermination industry, which uses dogs to detect bed bugs.”

Former owner of Land & Sea Market in Paxton, James Laingor, knew many of the police officers, who were customers, but he said he learned something in every class. Laingor said as a town resident, he wanted to know more about what officers go through on a daily basis, adding he luckily hasn’t needed them for an emergency.

“I now have a lot more respect for what they do,” Laingor said. “I recommend anyone to take the class, whether you have some police background or not.”

Laingor’s favorite class was when Police Chief Robert Desrosiers did an accident reconstruction demonstration in the station’s parking lot – the old-fashioned way – with the weighted half-tire, pulling it to determine how fast the victim’s car could have been traveling.

“Today, they use a math formula to determine the speed,” Laingor said. “But sometimes the old way is the best way.”

Holden’s former police service aide and former Paxton public safety dispatcher Donmarie Desrosiers, of Paxton, has enrolled in the class twice, adding that case law changes.

“It wasn’t the same verbatim,” Desrosiers said. “My favorite class was on the role of the medical examiner. Seeing the bones, excavator, and the site are intriguing.”

Civilian Academy organizer Sgt. Guy Bibeau said he felt and hoped that the program gave the five Anna Maria College students and eight others an insight as to what goes on in law enforcement.

Pinckney agreed.

“I believe it necessary to bridge the gap between communities and law enforcement so that questions can be answered, relationships can build, and there can be more communication and cooperation between the two groups,” said Pinckney.

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