Wellesley Citizen Police Academy—A Memorable Experience

Special to The Swellesley Report from Thomas E. Peisch.

The professionalism of the Wellesley Police Department was on full display during a recent convening of the Wellesley Citizen Police Academy. After a COVID-related interruption, the Academy is now being offered twice a year to any Wellesley citizen interested in learning more about the Department’s operations. The Academy consists of nine two-hour sessions held on Wednesday evenings in the training room at the Police Station.

As a retired lawyer and long-time Wellesley resident, I was fortunate to attend the most recent edition of the Academy, along with a dozen or so other residents, young and old.

Each session featured a presentation by members of the Department under the watchful eye of Chief Jack Pilecki and his command staff. The subjects included:

  • the history of policing
  • community outreach
  • the court system
  • use of social media in law enforcement
  • traffic and pursuit
  • the use of defensive equipment
  • innovations in law enforcement practice

Two sessions featured talks by plainclothes detectives on crime scene analysis and investigative techniques. An early session was a demonstration of the Emergency Communications Center, a highly-sophisticated, state-of- the-art system at the police station that fields some 31,000 calls per year. The ECC is staffed 24/7 by dispatchers who are trained in responding quickly to what are frequently charged situations.

wellesley police communications center
Wellesley Police Emergency Communications Center

 

As noted, each presenter was an active member of the Department, and each spoke with insight and enthusiasm about his or her particular area of expertise. They are too numerous to name here, but each of them demonstrated an earnest commitment to the Department’s mission of keeping the citizens of Wellesley safe.

The Department’s status as one of the Commonwealth’s most forward-thinking police organizations is exemplified by its participation in the suburban Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council, which combines the resources of a number of law enforcement agencies to ensure that all have the resources they need at a reasonable cost. In addition, Wellesley is one the first departments to employ a part-time social worker and a full time comfort dog so as to be in a better position to defuse tense situations. Which is not to say that the Department is not prepared to act forcefully when circumstances warrant it. This was made clear by real time videos of pursuits and apprehensions of criminal suspects. Finally, all the presenters emphasized the benefits and importance of training, an aspect of police work that is front and center in Wellesley thanks to Chief Pilecki’s efforts.

The high point of the Academy for me was the opportunity to ride alongside a patrol officer in a cruiser during a typical shift. Although my shift was (thankfully) uneventful, it provided an “up close” look at how community policing should function.

In an era of increased scrutiny of police operations, the citizens of Wellesley can be assured that they are protected day in and day out by the best law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth. The Academy will be offered again in the fall, and I encourage all eligible citizens to sign up and attend it.

In conclusion, special thanks are owed to Academy Director Mike Pino, who did a great job coordinating enrollment and scheduling and looking out for the comfort of attendees.

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