Trumbull police academy goes above and beyond to prepare students for law enforcement careers

Christina Stafford

Rows of students sit in navy blue shirts paying close attention to what their instructor is saying. He is talking about crime scene investigations and the significance of making straight lines and using pen as opposed to pencil to ensure the drawings do not get altered. As class goes on, Carol Gregory, director of public safety training and research, appears in the doorway and class stops as the students all jump to their feet out of respect to one of their instructors and superiors.

More than 50 students attend night classes Monday through Friday at Trumbull campus’s police academy. They are required to attend every class and complete more than 600 hours of training, which is above state minimum requirements for officer certification.

Gregory said the hours of physical fitness training cadets have to complete to graduate from the academy are not mandated by the state, but it helps them get ready for their class.

“We ask more,” said Catherine Kieley, program coordinator of public safety training and research. “We give them a final here that is harder than the state’s. If they can pass it, they will pass the state one.”

The training isn’t something that everyone will be able to complete, Gregory said.

“It takes a lot of perseverance to complete the academy.”

The classes involve a lot of lecture with hands-on training. One of the exercises involves people being hidden in a building and the students having to find them and read them their rights. Sometimes a crime scene will be set up and students will have to sketch it.

The police academy began in June 2006 with funding from Wanda Thomas, dean of Trumbull campus, and has since become financially independent. The tuition for the program is currently $2,850. The initial cost was mainly that of starting up the academy, which began bringing in revenue in its first month.

Most of the cadets at the academy do not have a bachelor’s degree in justice studies, but some have decided to take classes since enrolling in the academy.

The instructors are all state certified. They are required to have at least five years of law enforcement experience.

“I would like people who have applied this in the field,” Gregory said. “The director of child services has taken children out of meth labs.”

Instructor Lou Carsone has been teaching police academy classes for 12 years and has 27 years experience as a police officer. He teaches classes in crime scene investigation evidence collection.

Students must be at least 18 years old to enroll in the academy. The average age of students is 25.

Class commander Jason Laprocina will graduate from the academy in May.

“It was either go to law school or police academy,” Laprocina said. “It is something I have wanted to do as a kid.”

“(The academy puts) strong emphasis on professional knowledge and competency and turning out officers that will perform their work in exemplary fashion,” Gregory said.

She said any police department will be happy to have a graduate of the academy.

In the last class to take the state exam, 100 percent passed the physical fitness portion. Of those, none have taken the written exam yet, but Gregory said the passage rate should be high as well.

Gregory said the program is designed so a student can go to classes just during the day, or just at night and still be able to graduate with a bachelor’s of arts in justice studies and officer certification in four years.

The Trumbull police academy is currently accepting applications for the next class of cadets.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Christina Stafford at [email protected].