It took a good 15 minutes for Brookfield Police Cpl. Ron Mann to explain how to fill out a traffic ticket for attendees of the Brookfield Junior Police Academy at Brookfield High School.
Once he had finally gotten through it, he asked the eight students, “Do you think you can do this in a car in two or three minutes?”
They got a chance to try as part of the academy. Mann handed over his “happy citation book” and let the students sit in the driver’s seat of his cruiser.
Lt. Pete Gibb came up with the idea for the academy, and Mann, the department’s liaison to the school, is coordinator, said Chief Dan Faustino. Several police officers participated in sessions.
The students learned about evidence gathering, department procedure, self-defense and the history of the department, said senior Mike Evans.
On this day, Feb. 14, Mann showed the students how to approach a vehicle that has been pulled over, what signs to look for in measuring the threat to officer safety, and how to perform a field sobriety test.
The academy was held one day a week after school for nine weeks. The students did not receive school credit, but were awarded certificates of completion.
Faustino said he has a selfish reason for holding the academy: hopefully hooking the students into pursuing police work as a profession, and having some of them apply to Brookfield when positions become available.
Devan Ungerer, a junior, is already hooked.
“I want to be a police officer,” she said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie.”
Senior Dionte Colwell said his father is a Sharon cop and “I want to follow in his footsteps.”
Abigail Hill, a freshman, said she got an introduction to police work through her uncle, who used to take her to the station when he was a policeman. But, she has developed her own reasons for wanting to pursue police work as a career.
“Being able to help (people) is a big part of it,” she said.
Sophomore Kaytlyn Horton said she probably would rather be a lawyer than a policeman, but it doesn’t hurt to get a glimpse of what police do as she considers her career path.
“It just really interests me, and I wanted to learn more about it,” she said.
Mike said he has always looked up to policemen because of their willingness to put their lives on the line for others, but appreciated the opportunity to meet police officers on a more informal basis. Most people interact with police only when they are doing their jobs, such as pulling over a vehicle or investigating a crime, he said.
Mann didn’t seem to be holding anything back from the students at the Feb. 14 session, from talking about the history of the profession’s association with doughnuts – from when beat-walking cops would write their reports in coffee and doughnut shops – to acknowledging that he didn’t do real well in a recent role-playing training scenario.
He also discussed the toll the stress of the job can take on a person, and how that stress is sometimes relieved by pranks the policemen play on each other.
“In this job, if you can’t laugh, you’ll go crazy,” Mann said.
“They’re telling us everything that they do, which is awesome,” Mike said. “I think it takes a lot for them to do this. They didn’t have to do this. They didn’t have to come out, but they do this for the students. It’s amazing.”
Faustino said he is considering holding two junior academy sessions a year and is seeking sponsors to help offset the department’s costs.
“We’ll do assessments when we’re done and make sure the school’s good with it, it’s feasible and viable to them to keep going forward and hopefully that’s something that will be here long past all of us,” Faustino told the township trustees on Jan. 28.