A class of their own: Student police officers utilize Wareham elementary school for training
The halls of the Minot Forest Elementary School have been anything but quiet since doors closed to students last June.
While the aged building awaits demolition to make way for a new, $90 million project, multiple law enforcement agencies from around the state have been taking advantage of the space.
Most recently, the Plymouth County Police Academy used the building for active shooter training.
The course, which featured 57 student officers from 30 Massachusetts communities, ran for three days starting on Feb. 5 with help from Wareham’s Acting Police Chief, John Walcek, Plymouth Police Chief Michael Boteiri and Sandwich Police Chief Peter Wack.
While the time student officers spent at Minot Forest was only a fraction of their 24-week program, staff instructors said training at the school provided cadets with a level of experience they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
“It puts their tactical skills to the test in a realistic environment,” said staff instructor Jim Murphy. “Because of that, its an invaluable resource.”
Walcek said the unused building was first made available to the Wareham Police Department by Superintendent Dr.Kimberly Shaver-Hood shortly after its closing.
“She offered us the keys, and we jumped right on it,” he said. “Since then, we’ve really tied to get the word out. Its the ideal location for our work in a lot of ways.”
Because active shooter training involves the use of paintball-like rounds to mark targets, Murphy said the process can quickly become messy.
Prior to Minot, the academy would often run drills in schools and other buildings that were in still in use.
“We used to find out where we would train the day of, and you always worry about the mess,” he said “But here, we know we don’t have to worry about kids coming in the next day. Things don’t need to be put back or cleaned up.”
Because of this, Murphy said students had more time to focus on their approach and technique when it comes to dealing with dangerous situations.
“We’re very thankful for Walcek and all he’s done to help us use this building,” said Academy Director Eileen Goodick. “We’re nearing the end of our training, so this is a fantastic last experience for our student officers.”
If all goes well over the next two weeks, Goodick said student officers will go on to graduate on Feb. 22.
More photos from the academy’s training session can be found in the gallery below.