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Avon Cadet Program is Accepting New Members

The Avon Police Department facilitates the program.

Avon Police Cadets and college-bound members. Left to right: Cadets Steven DelGallo, Kurt Ollestad, Gabby Salonia, Ryan Farrell, Lachlan Mundair, Richie Hefler, Catriana Hersey, Jaelle Hersey, Maggie Herdegen and Lexi Pastizzo. Credit: Avon PD
Avon Police Cadets and college-bound members. Left to right: Cadets Steven DelGallo, Kurt Ollestad, Gabby Salonia, Ryan Farrell, Lachlan Mundair, Richie Hefler, Catriana Hersey, Jaelle Hersey, Maggie Herdegen and Lexi Pastizzo. Credit: Avon PD
When Avon police Sgt. Lisa Petkis was younger, she participated in the police cadet program in her hometown of Windsor.

She grew interested in the field of law enforcement through her experience as a cadet and later decided to become a police officer after an eight-year career in teaching math at the Capitol Region Education Council's Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield.

Now Petkis is supervising Avon's Police Cadet program. She took over leadership of it in October 2012 after Sgt. Mark Wosniak retired following 15 years of running the cadet program. 

"I'm very excited to be fostering this type of match with the kids here in the community like I had years ago," Petkis said. "The goal is the interaction between the department and youth in the community."

The department is part of the Northeast Regional Law Enforcement Education Association, operating the cadet program on five pillars – law enforcement, leadership and team building, community service, traffic and safety and a social element. 

The cadets participate in law enforcement trainings and also take a class on "leadership and life," Petkis said. 

"It gives the kids leadership skills they can use throughout their schooling," Petkis said, adding that the department places a high emphasis on academic excellences for its members.

They learn about components of being a police officer like forensics, first aid and CPR, "building search and felony response," disturbance and domestic disturbance calls, "DUI enforcement," interacting with "emotionally disturbed persons," "felony traffic stops," "high stress scenarios," "officer safety and suspicious persons," "radio procedures and traffic direction" and "traffic stop and suspicious vehicles." Cadets are also given the opportunity to have a ride-along with a police officer. 

They also do an obstacle course and fitness exercises, learn about the P.O.S.T. Fitness Assessment and do numerous team building activities like a ropes course.

Cadets are also trained in "drill and ceremony," according to an informational flyer from the department.

However, cadets do not handle guns or have a hand in investigations at any time during the program. Cadets have monthly meetings and attend a New Cadet Orientation after their first meeting, according to an informational flyer about the group.

Cadets also may be eligible to participate in the Cadet Police Academy and to compete in Law Enforcement Stations Day. Some may even qualify to attend the FBI National Academy, CT Chapter Youth Leadership Program.

Other members of the department pitch in. For instance, Sgt. Thomas Jacius also teaches the kids a mountain biking course. 

The cadets also volunteer in the community. They helped the Avon Police Association with its Stuff A Cruiser fundraiser, collecting more than 1,000 toys and raising over $600 to benefit patients of Connecticut Children's Medical Center. The cadets also served food to seniors at an annual holiday senior center meal and helped the department with Tip a Cop. They also help at Special Olympic fundraisers and assist with "traffic and safety" at the Memorial Day Parade and Avon Day in town. 

Petkis also organizes social events for cadet program participants, such as a visit to Flight Trampoline Park in New Britain and going to a University of Hartford baseball game.

"We try to offer the kids a safe and healthy environment to socialize in," Pekis said. 

For many Avon Police Cadets, their interview with the department to participate in the program is often their first interview. 

"We are active and we're looking to bring in new members," Petkis said. 

Applicants must be 14 or older and have completed their first semester of eighth grade. They also have to pass a background check, "have displayed exemplary behavior in the community an at school during the last six months," and maintain passing grades. The department accepts applications year-round and cadets must also complete a six-month probationary period to remain active. 

The post can have a maximum of 25 cadets registered at a time and other interested candidates who pass the application process can be placed on a waiting list.

For more information, contact the department at 860-409-4293 or Petkis at LPetkis@town.avon.ct.us. 

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