An open letter from Sabrina Romasz, Police Recruit,Capstone Project, Somerset County Police Academy, June 13,2004.
It has become a common practice of the Somerset County PoliceAcademy to have their recruit classes partake in a project thatallows them to go out into a community and implement a type ofprogram, which will in turn, become a beneficial resource utilizedbetween the community and their local police department. It iscalled the Capstone Project and I was fortunate enough to be a partof a project that was employed by the Franklin Township PoliceDepartment and a small senior community named Canal Walk
. The group consisted of four recruits from different parts of NewJersey, all the way from Bayonne in Hudson County to LawrenceTownship in Mercer County. We were assigned the task of creatingawareness amongst the Canal Walk residents about domestic terrorism(defined), how to react to a possible attack, and how to reportsuspicious activity to the police in an effective manner. Havingsuch a diverse group lead to an unending platform of ideas.
We began our research with a survey that consisted of a fewquestions. These questions focused on how well the residents knewwhat proper actions they should take in the event of a terroristattack in New Jersey. We also incorporated a few open-endedquestions that centered on their past experiences and knowledge ofcrime. The group was surprised to see that not many people knewmuch about domestic terrorism or how to react to an incident if itwere to occur in New Jersey.
After our survey was completed, the group held a meeting at theSenior Center with the residents of Canal Walk. With the help ofone of the patrol officers from the Franklin Township PoliceDepartment, we were able to inform the residents what domesticterrorism is, how to react to a possible attack, and how to reportsuspicious activity that could be linked to future attacks. Theresidents did not seem to know much about the issues discussed, andwas not even aware that instances of domestic terrorism couldhappen right in their backyard. They thanked us for the informationand said they would be in touch with the police department to takefurther steps in implementing the program within theircommunity.
From this project I learned how important it is to be in touch withthe residents of the community in which I will work. Knowledge isthe key to keeping safe. Proper reporting and utilization of thepolice department can lead to a proactive approach to possibleinstances of crime. I enjoyed the time I spent talking with thecitizens of Canal Walk. They offered a lot of insight into thepreliminary stages of the project. Our group learned how importantit is for us to be open to all ideas the public has to offer. Ibelieve this Capstone Project is an extremely important part of theacademy learning experience. It broadens interpersonal andcommunication skills amongst the recruits and the public, skillsthat can be used throughout our career.
Sabrina Romasz, Recruit SCPA