FRAMINGHAM — President Marc Spigel and the Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association (MA-VLEOA) would like to thank the officers of the Abington Police Department Auxiliary Unit for their years of service to their community as their unit is disbanded.
Auxiliary Lt. Dean Mini and Sgt. Jeffrey W. Bailey turned in their gear this week after careers of 16 and 21 years, respectively, as did about eight other officers who were part of the unit.
Mini works in the private sector as Director of Global Security Operations for a major financial services organization. He said that despite 16 years of experience, he — like many other officers in the unit — did not meet the requirement established by the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) that reserve officers have at least 2,400 hours of patrol experience to continue serving as police in Massachusetts without attending a full-time police academy.
Mini said he understands the move on the part of Abington Police leaders, and believes the Department will continue to thrive thanks to strong leadership. He added that support and community connections provided by the auxiliary unit will be missed, especially at events where auxiliary officers volunteered to help community groups save on costs.
“A complete reevaluation of the Department has been long underway and the roster of current Special Officers simply did not have the MPTC minimal hours of service required to attend the bridge academy,” Mini said. “The additional burden of three weeks of in-person training held only during business hours meant three weeks of vacation from my full-time job, plus an additional 80 hours of remote learning.
“I am disappointed that years of annual MPTC in-service training hours never counted at all. The hurdles were set high, as they should be, but the guidance provided was very little, and the message seemed clear: Special and Reserve Police are no longer part of the community policing paradigm in Massachusetts.”
MA-VLEOA is fully supportive of additional training requirements for reserve officers that were implemented as a result of the Massachusetts police reform law, but is pushing for the state to make the hands-on training included in the requirements more widely available on nights and weekends to facilitate the needs of reserve officers who have other full-time careers. The organization is also concerned about requirements that reserve officers have at least 2,400 hours of experience with arrest powers by January 2027, because many of the state’s reserve officers do not work enough hours to meet the requirement. If Reserve Officers do not meet that experience requirement, they must attend a full-time police academy under the new regulations. Without changes to the new requirements, reserve police officer programs around the Commonwealth could be crippled or disbanded, as Abington’s was.
“Special Police and volunteers come with all sorts of amazing backgrounds. They’re a diverse group of people who absolutely care about their community. They bring their skills, trades, education, experience, business acumen and life experience to every detail, call for service, or assigned duty,” said Mini. “This was simply one of the best ways to give back to the community. The special police programs across Massachusetts typify community policing. They were always an extension of the full-time men and women, always under their guidance and leadership, and always there to support the department and their towns. Many of their efforts are unpaid. They are true volunteers.”
Bailey, the longest-serving member of the Abington unit, turned in his gear on Monday. Mini, Bailey and most other members of the auxiliary unit, also have college degrees in criminal justice or other law enforcement fields.
“Over the past 21 years as a Police Officer for Abington some of my most meaningful experiences would include being able to forge some lifelong friendships and meet some amazing people I probably would never have had the opportunity to meet if not for being a Police Officer. This includes not only coworkers but towns people, business owners and others in the community,” said Bailey. “I have been able to apply numerous things that I have learned in my police trainings to my everyday life and for that I am very grateful. My fondest memory of all is being able to say I was a Police Officer for the Town of Abington.”
Mini and Bailey said the Abington Police Department relied heavily on the auxiliary unit in the past when the Department was understaffed, or to fill in for officers who took planned or emergency time off.
Bailey works full-time as a salesman for a local plumbing and heating wholesaler. He said that working community events, and the interaction with residents and business owners at those events were among the most gratifying experiences on a job that he pursued in addition to a full-time career because he wanted to help other people. Bailey’s interest in law enforcement also led to him obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
“Working town events like the 4th of July Fireworks or Founders Day, Veterans Day Parades, and Abington High School sporting events all stand out,” Sgt. Bailey said. “During these events there is a tremendous amount of people who would come up to us and thank us for everything that we do and tell us how much they appreciate us. Those are very good memories that I will never forget.”
Bailey also served as a Field Training Officer for new auxiliary police officers in Abington, and was the first officer to train several new auxiliary officers who later became full-time officers.
“I take a lot of pride knowing that I was able to be the first officer to train them in the beginning of their law enforcement careers,” said Bailey.
Mini, who has also served with U.S. Air Force Security Services and spent two years on the Abington Police Station Building Committee,intends to continue seeking opportunities to contribute to the Abington community, and will continue supporting the Department. He will no longer be able to provide that support as an auxiliary officer, though.
“As I sit and reflect, it really was about the people. Starting with the MPTC Reserve Intermittent Academy in Plymouth, followed by 16 years and hundreds of hours of annual in-service training, department-specific training, range ops, special events, cruiser shifts, parades, funerals, some boring patrols and some wild ones as well, even in my limited capacity, I was able to be part of events that brought honor and comfort to other people,” Mini said. “I’ve stood watch over people at their best and at their worst and sometimes at their end. I made great lifetime friends here. I will always be proud of the time.”
The Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association continues to call for the MPTC to make in-person training for reserve police officers available at more flexible times and locations, so that officers with full-time careers can schedule the training they are required to receive, and for the MPTC and other stakeholders to reconsider the number and type of required hours of experience needed to be trained and certified as a reserve officer.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the Abington community over the years through the Abington Police Auxiliary Unit,” said MA-VLEOA President Spigel. “MA-VLEOA supports requiring that all reserve officers in Massachusetts are thoroughly trained for any duty they are assigned to, but what is happening in Abington is exactly why we want to work with the MPTC and other law enforcement stakeholders to find a more flexible and more realistic path forward for dedicated and competent community members like Dean Mini and Jeffrey Bailey.”
To learn more about the Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association, click here.