by Kathleen Pulek, Rare Reminder, October 16, 2014
Twice monthly the Wethersfield Police Department (WPD) is a hub of activity. A group of 20 or so Police Cadets from Post 159, are immersed in extensive hands-on training that covers scenarios like how to handle domestic disturbances, felony motor vehicle stops, suspicious persons, building searches, DUI enforcement and traffic direction.
The community-oriented program is under the direction of the WPD, Chief James Cetran and the Cadet Advisors, led by Juvenile Detective Norberto Mendez. Cadets like town resident Brendan Aceto are taught leadership, teamwork and conflict resolution skills as well as the importance of academic excellence and volunteerism.
“I love to help people as well as help around my community,” the 19-year old said on Sunday, Oct. 12th while assisting with the Wethersfield Police Cadet Benefit Car Show held on the grounds of picturesque Wethersfield Cove. “The Cadets are helping out by patrolling the grounds, assisting with traffic and directing the show cars and the general public to the proper parking areas.
“This is our big fundraiser, so we appreciate everything that Over the Hill Gang Eastern Chapter president Gordon Partridge and the car club’s members have done to organize and stage today’s show. It’s great to see hundreds of show cars and so many people here at the Cove. Proceeds will help us purchase things like uniforms,” Aceto said of the support generated for Cadet Post 159, which receives no funding from the town and is not incorporated into the Police Department’s budget.
“We’re trained to become police officers. We practice different scenarios – like how to interview people, how you handle a fight and hostage negotiations during our bi-weekly meetings,” stated the Manchester Community College Business major, smartly garbed in his crisp Cadet uniform.” We also assist the Police Department with traffic direction at events like Cornfest, road races and the Memorial and St. Patrick’s Day Parades.”
The cadets take part in a variety of scenario-based competitions that simulate events like a motor vehicle traffic stop, with police officers from throughout the state assessing the cadets’ verbal communications skills, tactical skills and safety awareness. When the WPD did School Shooting Response type training a couple of years back, the cadets portrayed the victims and hostagesCaptain Patrick McCarthy, Post 154’s highest-ranking cadet, “always wanted to become a police officer. We don’t have a Police Cadet Program in Newington, so I joined Wethersfield five years ago, when I was 14.
“Not many people know about the Police Cadet Program, so we’re here getting the word out,” continued the UConn West Hartford sophomore who’s double majoring in Urban Community Studies with Sociology and a minor in Criminal Justice.
“All the money we get from donations or through fundraising efforts is what goes into the Cadet account, which we use to take the kids to competitions and to pay for equipment, uniforms and materials needed for cadet trainings.
“We used to work at the Travelers Tournament, but we lost that about four years ago, so today’s car show is very important to us. The proceeds will greatly assist us in getting people uniforms. We’ve had some cadets with us for a few years that haven’t gotten uniforms because we just haven’t had the money.
“Support from this car show means a lot to the Cadet Program. We’re grateful for all the work the Eastern Chapter of the Over the Hill Gang Car Club put into making today’s car show such a success. We’re also grateful for the support of our many sponsors, including Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Mirabelli Automotive, Lyons Service and Turnpike Motors.
“We also receive tremendous support from Chief James Cetran, our advisor Detective Norberto Mendez, Officers Robert Arduini, Joel Diloreto, Bridget Camara and Peter Salvatore, Lieutenants Donald Crabtree and Thomas Mitney and all the Wethersfield sergeants – everyone in the Police Department, really,” said McCarthy.
According to Mendez, who has been with the WPD for 16 years, “The Cadet Program is geared toward youth 13-21 in Wethersfield and surrounding towns because not all towns have cadet posts. We just had a couple of kids age out (at 21), which I was disappointed about because they’re really good kids, but they’re coming back to assist as advisors, which really pleases me.
“We’ve had quite a few of Post 159 cadets become police officers in Manchester, Simsbury, Rocky Hill and Avon. Our program has been very successful. The kids enjoy it and the Wethersfield police officers enjoy assisting them with their training,” said Mendez.