For five years the Lloyd Police Department has held an eight-week civilian police academy to show the public what they do on a daily basis, while teaching about a variety of topics on everyone’s mind across the country.
Police Chief Daniel Wage said each year he presents a similar basic curriculum but has added to it over the years.
Waage said in the active shooter civilian response class the ‘students’ were first given instruction that was then followed by a simulated emergency event that was staged inside the Middle School.
“It really changed mindsets and now they can really understand what to do if they find themselves in that kind of situation,” he said.
Waage said they also bring awareness to the opioid epidemic, pointing out that this scourge affects people from every walk of life across the country. He said they educate people about how to see the symptoms of this in a loved one or a friend.
“Just like any other disease, the earlier you detect it the more successful you’re going to be,” he said. “If we’re able to give them that education to help them in their own lives and maybe save somebody else’s life, it’s worth it.”
Waage feels this class fosters a sense of community and enhances better communication between the public and law enforcement. He said although the class is limited to 20 people, what they learn may very well ripple out and have a positive impact upon the wider community.
Waage acknowledged that he could not do this class without his “right hand man,” Sgt. Phil Roloson.
“We’re lucky that we have a lot of contacts and I am able to bring in excellent instructors,” he said. “I’m very picky about who I’ll bring in; they have to know their stuff and be good at it. That’s why we’ve been successful.”
Howard Schwartz became interested in taking the class after spending a few mornings with members of the police department at Vigneto Restaurant as part of their community outreach.
“It was eight weeks and it was fantastic and every Wednesday I looked forward to it and we learned an enormous amount,” he said.
Schwartz said the job the Police do, “is hard, unbelievable and these guys do it really well. We got to appreciate who our Highland Police Department really is.”
Schwartz was most impressed with a staged car accident that was done one evening in a parking lot.
“They had the entire Police Department, the Ambulance Squad, the Fire Department and Torsone’s Funeral Home because they had to show that if somebody died in a car accident that they have to come and take the body away,” he said. “They also showed three kinds of jaws of life if somebody is stuck in the car. It was quite an evening.”
Robin Hecht’s daughter, Domonique Felicello, convinced her to take the class together.
“She explained the class to me and said they are about drug awareness, child abuse, active shooter and the ADA is coming to speak, let’s take it together,” Hecht said. “We thought at first 3 hours one night a week for 8 weeks, I don’t know if I can do this.”
Both are involved in education, Robin is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Marlboro and Domonique is a Life Skills teacher for special needs students in Highland.
Domonique said, “What good it could do if we could branch it out into our jobs and how we could help.” Robin said for her the class, “broke a barrier about being nervous approaching an officer. So it was very comfortable in here where they talked to us, they shared stories, we could ask questions and we even learned about scams that were happening, email scams, telephone scams and how to protect the elderly. You could apply it to your job, your home life, you could apply it to the community.”
Both said that each week the class was supposed to end at 9 p.m. but they found the topics so interesting that they ended up staying an extra hour.
At the graduation each student received a Certificate and congratulations from the Chief. To return the acknowledgment, the class presented Chief Waage and Sgt. Roloson with plaques to show their appreciation for hosting the Civilian Police Academy.