Deputy Police Chief Eramo’s Citizens Police Academy

June 8, 2011

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Deputy Rockland Police Chief Eramo, It's all about safety.

The Rockland Deputy Police Chief, Jerry Eramo, has resurrected the Citizens Police Academy. A dozen cadets, ranging in age from 16 to 76, applied for the program. Only 12 were selected to attend. (Everyone gets accepted)  The ten- week program is designed to be another bridge to the community from the Rockland Police Department. Eramo has tried year after year to re-start the program; and as of 6:30 pm on Tuesday 10 weeks ago,  the 2011 Citizens Police Academy was reborn.

Chief Llewellyn welcomed the new recruits in the training room and gave everyone a quick overview of the program. Llewellyn then gave the floor to Deputy Chief Eramo, who gave an outline of the ten-week program.

The program includes a complete history of the department along with  the chain of command, the mission statement and  the workload statistics at RPD. The students got a complete tour of the station, including all the weapons, tools, vehicles and holding cells. They also toured the offices and command center. Students even got a look inside Chief Llewellyn’s office. I took a quick  moment to sit in the big chair and put my feet up on the desk. Lt. Zeoli didn’t see the humor, but at least I got my tazing out of the way on the first night.

Weapons expert Casper gives some last minute instructions to the students

Many students noted how professional the department is . Security, safety, protocol, rules and regulations.They were also struck by how dedicated these officers are to their job. As Deputy Eramo said, “It is not a job, it is a way of life. You have to love it and marry it.”

Week two, The students got a long look at Criminal/Constitutional law basics with Sgt Simpson and Lt. Zeoli. These two professionals were a wealth of information and knowledge. The material was very interesting to the students, who asked dozens of questions and came out of the class knowing far more than when they went in.

Week three brought  RPD rising star, Rockland K9 Officer, Steve Somers with his self-supported Rockland Police K9 Program.

OFC. Steve Somers with K9 Boyar.

Somers did several demonstrations in the use of K9′s in police work. Somers’ K9 program is recognized as one of the best in the northeast and is often called to serve in dangerous situations throughout the the state. The students were given up-close looks at the dogs and the entire K9 Program. Somers has set up a foundation to meet the expenses of this non-budgeted program.

Casper fires the rifle into the bullet proof vest.

Bullet proof vest is blown through the target and pierced by the slug.

Officer Brundige goes over each weapon with the students.

Week four was on domestic violence and the DARE program with Officer Sue Llewellyn and Officer Coakly. Officer Llewellyn outlined the latest laws when it comes to domestic violence. The students were amazed to learn that domestic violence cases occur in higher numbers in Rockland than any other surrounding town.  Llewellyn told some chilling accounts of brutal domestic violence cases to which she has responded.   Officer Coakly outlined the DARE program in Rockland. The program has touched the lives of nearly every Rockland Public School student for the past 25 years.

Week 5 was all about  traffic/OUI enforcement, with Badge Number 1, Officer Buiel and Sgt Chernicki.  This included allowing students to volunteer to drink a measured amount of alcohol and then perform a field sobriety test. Students observed the tests and then were asked to guess if the drinker’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. One student who had consumed five beers in about an hour appeared to pass the test with flying colors.  However, Officer Buiel recognized a side effect of the alcohol. When the breathalyzer was complete, the student’s blood alcohol level was .84 – over the legal limit. Another student who failed the field sobriety test only blew a .65 and would have been released had it been an actual traffic stop. Another student stuff his mouth with crackers in an attempt to cover up his drinking. He then begged to differ with the officers findings.

Week 6 was on the  use of force with  Ofc. Casper and Sgt. Simpson.  This class outlined the strict time-tested methods for the use of force in the field. Students learned that every Rockland police officer who carries a Tazer was first shot and tazed with the weapon. The instruction included all tactics for dealing with those who resist arrest or fail to comply with an officer’s commands. From raising your voice to shoot to kill, the full range of use of force was covered.

Week 7 was  firearms and special response with Ofc. Casper, Sgt.  Simpson and Deputy Chief Eramo.

DARE officer Sue Llewellyn with Sgt. Simpson.

This was a fascinating class -  demonstrating all the weapons and tactics now employed by the RPD,  including their own version of a swat team which includes only the most physically fit and highly trained officers. The students got a look at riot gear, bullet proof vests, high-powered rifles and some items so secret, I can not tell about them here.
Week 8 is a Mock Trial with a court prosecutor and the District Attorneys office along with Ofc. Somers.  This, like so many mock trials in the Commonwealth, also had to be continued until a later date.

Week 9 was  a Tour of Plymouth County House of Correction.  This was a stunning, eye-opening field trip into one of the largest correctional facilities in the Commonwealth.  Students, flanked by RPD officers, walked the hallways with the general prison population.  Sgt. Murphy of PHoC conducted the tour in a very professional manner,  pointing out every aspect of the prison protocol. At one point, students were brought near the entrance to the area housing some of the most dangerous and unruly inmates.  They screamed profanity and banged on their cell doors while Murphy nonchalantly continued with his explanations.

Saturday of Week 9 was the incredible firearms training with Eramo, Casper and Brundige.  The class took place at the secret and secluded training camp set up by Eramo deep in the woods of Rockland Hills.  This class gave students a full lesson in gun safety;  and then, the students were actually allowed to fire all the weapons.

The 2011 Graduating Class of the Rockland Citizens Police Academy

In addition, each student was given a ride-along with a patrol car for four hours during a Friday or Saturday night shift. The ride-along varied from several arrests and interesting calls to quiet shifts with no action at all.

Week Ten was the graduation.  Deputy Chief  Eramo treated students to a light supper and a graduation ceremony.

Any one interested in joining the Rockland Citizens Police Academy should contact Deputy Chief Eramo at RPD.  There will be  another class offered in the Fall of 2011. Interest in the program has been heating up,  and chances are this class will fill very quickly.

The Rockland Police Department – making Rockland a SAFE  place to live.