CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Eighteen Chicopee teens are going through the city’s first-ever youth police academy this week.
“I just wanted to learn what it’s like being like a police officer because I really want to one day try to change the world so this is one way to start,” Cadet Janelly Torres Pagan said.
The program is being run by Chicopee’s school resource officers and the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, with the help of various units within the police department. On Tuesday, the teens got to see three of Chicopee’s police dogs in action and were apart of a Special Response Team hostage drill on a school bus.
One cadet told 22News he admires the work of his city’s police officers.
“They protect me and they make our community better,” Cadet Jahiem Thompson explained.
Cadet Jovanni Feliciano wanted to be a part of the youth police academy because he can see himself being an officer in the future.
“I wanted to have a learning experience about the police force,” he said.
Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk told 22News the purpose of the youth academy is all about strengthening the police department’s relationship with the kids.
“A lot of times people only see us when there are bad things happening,” Wilk said. “We want these kids to see us at a good, positive time– to learn to trust us, believe in us, and come to us.”
“I’ve learned that police officers aren’t that bad and that they help the community more than I expected,” Cadet Faith Baez said.
In addition to learning about all the different jobs police officers do, the teens are also learning discipline through drill and physical fitness.
The diverse group of cadets seem to all have one thing in common:
“My favorite part is the K9s,” Thompson said. “They are pretty cool and they are very smart.
“I really liked the K9s, I liked how they trained them,” Cadet Torres Pagan said. “And maybe if I were to become a police officer, I think I’d like to be a K9 officer.”
“I really liked the underwater team,” Cadet Feliciano said. “Oh and the K9 part too, that was my favorite part!”
“My favorite part has to be the K9s, just because how smart they are and how much of an impact that they make,” Cadet Baez said.