CHELMSFORD — Chief James M. Spinney reports that the Chelmsford Police Department hosted 42 kids from 5th grade to 8th grade at a week-long Youth Police Academy this week.
The inaugural Chelmsford Police Youth Police Academy was held from Monday, July 11 to Friday, July 15.
Daily programming included dietary and physical fitness lessons from Best Fitness, classes taught by Chelmsford Police officers on CPR, radar, drones, and impaired driving and classes taught by Chelmsford Police detectives on crime scene analysis, fingerprinting and Internet safety.
The Massachusetts State Police Air Wing and Explosive Ordinance Disposal units and the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council K-9 Unit, Motorcycle Unit and SWAT Team visited and provided demonstrations.
Academy leaders also mixed in practice with drilling and lining up in formations, and activities like Capture the Flag to keep the cadets exercising. The week was capped off with a community service project, as cadets and academy leaders cleaned up litter at the Route 110 Chelmsford Little League Complex.
“This academy is an absolute home run for us because one positive interaction with police can change someone for life,” said Academy Director Sgt. Nicholas Ziminsky. “This gives our officers a chance to have positive, and even fun, interactions with community members, and a chance for community members to get to know their police department. This kind of relationship building will pay off for years.”
Julia Salerno, 12, said she hadn’t interacted with police officers much before attending the academy, and learned that they’re nicer than she realized, and do a lot of work in the community.
“It’s not all catching bad guys,” said Leah Hamelin, 13. “They help people a lot, and a lot of times, their work is more about helping people in the community.”
Hamelin and Salerno said they enjoyed the SWAT demonstration because they got 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, bomb squad, and K-9 demonstrations.
“This has been as successful as it is because of the way Chelmsford Police officers buy-in and volunteer their time,” said Lt. Gary Hannagan, who is also president of the Chelmsford Police Athletic League, which officers sports opportunities and events like Movie Night in the community year round. “This shows these officers’ commitment to 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 without previous experience running such an ambitious academy,” said Chief Spinney. “Community engagement is a priority for the Chelmsford Police Department, and this academy was a great opportunity to build relationships with community members and to create two-way communication between police and youth.”