WORCESTER, Mass. - Continuing its long tradition of leadership and innovation, the Massachusetts National Guard in conjunction with the Worcester Police department graduated the nation’s first full-time civilian police academy for Army Military Police and Air Force Security Forces with a ceremony, here, May 1, 2015.
There were 34 graduates from the 16-week course, designed to augment and enhance the training the Guardsmen already receive as actively serving military police officers in the Massachusetts National Guard.
The course was initially conceived in 2010, when the military police school house came out with a directive stating more periodic law enforcement certifications were needed, as the force transitioned back to their policing roots, said Maj. Richard P. Cipro, deputy provost marshal, Massachusetts National Guard and Worcester Police sergeant.
“When we started, I was already a police sergeant, and a law enforcement certified trainer in the state,” he said. “We analyzed and tried to figure out how to put together an academy designed for Guardsmen.”
Along the journey to making this a reality, Cipro and his colleagues began seeking out different police organizations, realizing that partnering would be an integral asset. They reached out to a number of groups, including: the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee, the Massachusetts Police Association, Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, and others.
This initiative is already raising interest with other states as well as the Army. The Military Police regimental command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Woodring, was present and spoke to the graduates saying this is the way we’re going. That this is a great concept, and they’re going to take this on the Active Duty side and say, hey, this is what they’re doing in Massachusetts, he said.
During the graduation ceremony Cipro handed each certificate out with a broad smile and a firm handshake.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the Soldiers and Airmen who accomplished this. I do get a little emotional when I talk about it, because we took it from the beginning four years ago and this is the culmination of it. I’m excited for them, and to carry this into the future,” he said.
As of their graduation day, four of the Guardsmen already have employment around the commonwealth.
“I start in ten days,” said Pfc. Kevin O’Donnell.
“I wanted to come through this training and have a job lined up, but I wasn’t sure it was going to happen,” O’Donnell continued. “I think what they really look for is a good trained person in policing. Which this course did exactly that. I think each and every one of us is going to get a job in the end.”
Though the course was reduced in duration, it still covered everything a normal police academy would.
O’Donnell was pleasantly surprised by the benefit his military training provided in a number of situations, but also was tested in others.
Aside from procedural classes, the Soldiers and Airmen were trained in another vital part of policing, community relations and interaction with the public.
“Being a police officer, you need to have better communications and people skills. Community policing is huge,” O’Donnell said. “I feel like we had a lot of classes on that in the academy which really helped prepare all of us to be there and interact with the public. To not be robots like a lot of people might expect us to be.”
When you add the military experience in with the academy training, the Soldiers and Airmen bring a different perspective and level of training to any force they may join.
For many of the graduates, serving their state and communities is what they have always wanted to do.
“I’ve wanted to be a police officer ever since I was five years old,” O’Donnell said. “So this is basically the dream coming through, right here. It’s a great way to start off my career, in the law enforcement field.”
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