Chatham Police Plan Youth Academy For Middle School Students

by Alan Pollock

CHATHAM – If you stop by the police department this summer, you might see some recruits drilling or doing physical training outside. Really, really young recruits.

It’s the department’s first-ever youth police academy, and it’s set to start in late July, giving middle school students an insider’s view of law enforcement. Open to recruits entering grades 7 or 8 in September, the academy will include activities ranging from crime scene processing and self-defense skills to CPR and first aid training.

Police Chief Michael Anderson said the department is eager to offer the program, which is open to students from the Monomoy schools and other districts.

“We’re very proud to offer this opportunity for our youth to experience an environment that will provide leadership development, community engagement, life skill development and fun,” he said.

Leading the effort is Sgt. Bill Massey, the school resource officer at the middle school, who got the idea from a colleague from Hudson, Mass. The program there is very successful in building relationships between young people and the police, and “we want to put our own twist on it,” Massey said.

“We have a very solid commitment to youth in the community,” he said, but police have little contact with kids outside the school year. “We’d really like to try to involve them in stuff we do, and we want to be involved in stuff they do.”

The youth academy aims to recruit around 25 participants for the one-week program, which will take place starting July 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the George Ryder Road police station. The curriculum will emphasize structure, discipline and character-building activities, with plenty of physical training.

“There’s going to be a lot of P.T.,” with marching and drilling, “similar to a traditional police academy,” Massey said. But unlike other law enforcement summer programs, the academy is not designed to change the behavior of at-risk kids.

“That’s not our intent. We definitely are looking for kids who have an interest, or at least a curiosity, in law enforcement,” he said.

Among the activities being planned are police dog demonstrations, guest speakers from other law enforcement agencies, and even a unit on tracking people on nearby conservation trails using the department’s drone. The fire department will provide CPR and first aid training, and there will be some police instruction in self defense.

“We’re going to emphasize personal safety, cyber safety, being a responsible citizen online,” Massey said. But the instruction will also stress old-fashioned face-to-face interaction between kids rather than screen time. Recruits will take part in activities like pick-up basketball games and public speaking activities.

Participation will be free, with the department and the Chatham Police Association likely covering the costs of T-shirts and other supplies. Because there will be a limited number of spots, interested students should apply immediately, Massey said. For information, email Find additional information at

Several other members of the department are helping to organize the program, “and they’ve also brought their own ideas,” Massey said.

“All the staff here that have been involved in the planning and development phases are looking forward to it,” Anderson added.