I have joined the Manchester Government Academy for the last few weeks of the class. My husband and I took it a few years ago and if you live or work in town I highly recommend it. The way the class works is that on Thursday nights you travel to a town owned building to find out how the department is run. You might be at the fire department one week and then the water plant or the senior center or the library the next week.
This past Thursday the meeting was at the Police Department. The Manchester Police Department, according to Sergeant Ryan Shea, is one of the top departments in the state of Connecticut. To become a police officer in Manchester one must be 21 years old, have 60 college credits or 2 years of active military service, pass a polygraph test, a written test, an oral test, a physical fitness test and a mental health exam. Once hired the candidate trains for 22 weeks at a police academy in Meriden, Hartford, Bridgeport or New Haven followed by 17 weeks of field training.
The top crime problem in Manchester is larceny especially by Buckland Hills Mall and includes shop lifting and motor vehicle thefts. When there is a major incident the department has a chaplain for support and mutual aid agreements with police departments in surrounding towns. Also, the chaplain is available for support after any stressful situation an officer encounters.
Officer Jason Moss spoke to the class about the specialized traffic unit. Traffic violations are the #1 complaint received by all police departments. The violations include DUI, speeding, distracted driving and accidents. Some members of the MPD are part of a regional team for serious and fatal accidents. Using drones, mathematical formulas, accident scene photos, interviews with witnesses, vehicle damage, sobriety tests and knowledge of the weather and road conditions the officers are able to reconstruct with good accuracy what happened. The report can take up to 6 months to complete. Another part of the traffic unit is a motor unit which provides escorts and security during special events using motorcycles and ATVs.
The class was led on a tour of the police department. The dispatch room and the training room were quit impressive. The most senior dispatcher showed us the equipment used and how officers are directed to calls and tracked during a shift. Each car on patrol shows up on a screen at all times. The training room allowed for comprehensive and adaptive training using interactive video to allow officers to practice de-escalation of stressful situations verbally or if needed with minimal and appropriate use of force..
I also learned that there is a Citizen’s Police Academy which is a ten week program that runs every fall. It has already begun for this year. Maybe next year?