Lots of kids when asked what they want to be when they grow up answer ‘police officer!’
The East Lyme Police Cadets program is a great place for Waterford teens to find out if they’re cut out for the job.
“This is a way to give kids an opportunity to see what a police officer does on a daily basis and then, they’ll know if it’s for them,” said East Lyme Police Officer and program founder Mark Hallbauer.
Founded in 2001, scores of young people from Montville, East Lyme, Old Lyme, Waterford and Salem have joined the ranks of the East Lyme Cadets and in a number of cases, have grown up to be police officers including Montville Police Officer Addison Saffioti who was chosen as Montville’s Police Officer of the Year. Saffioti handled 68 DWI investigations and helped deliver a baby!
Former cadet Lindsay Cutillo is an East Lyme police officer and cadet Dominic Solari is an Old Lyme police officer. And, Hallbauer said, “several others have gone into the fire service, military among some of the public service trades.”
The program includes meetings, run employing Roberts Rules of Order, trainings including evidence searches, grid searches, scene investigation, K-9, obstacle course and other physical tests, first aid and myriad other law enforcement-style training. Cadets also attend a boot camp-style summer program at the state police academy in Hartford with hundreds of other cadets and a competition with other cadet posts in the spring.
But officer-style training would not be complete without a public service component; cadets also participate in projects like Super Storm Sandy cleanup and food drives.
Hallbauer said the cadets recently participated in a real evidence search utilizing grid training they’d received.
“They absolutely loved it,” he said. “You get to see the excitement in their eyes.”
Cadets also are able to do police ride-alongs once they reach the age of 16 and have participated in the program.
“We want to give them something to strive for,” he said.
East Lyme Police Cadets is also associated with the New England Law Enforcement Education Association, also co-founded by Hallbauer, which is made up of cadet posts and cadets from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The East Lyme Police Cadets currently have 15 members; half are girls.
“The girls do really really well. There’s lots of interest from girls and that’s great,” he said.
The cadets are self-supporting, Hallbauer said. He explained if the group accepted even modest support from a municipality and the funding was threatened, “that could mean we’d have to cancel programs.”
So the group fundraises every year to help pay for uniforms, programs, equipment, travel, and for those in financial need, a scholarship to be able to attend the summer camp at the police academy.
Currently they raise funds through phone solicitations. But Hallbauer said they’d gladly accept donations. If you want to donate to the cadets, please send your checks to East Lyme Police Cadets, PO Box 189, Niantic CT 06357. Please note that you ‘Saw the story on Patch’ in the subject line!