By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington Police Department cadet post faced a challenge they weren’t prepared for, and at first, thought they had hit a wall.
Cadets and affiliated police officers were unsure if they would be able to hold their annual pasta dinner, a crucial fundraiser for the program. It is traditionally held at the Calendar House, which is currently undergoing demolition.
When client services and volunteer director of Bread for Life, Missy Cipriano, caught wind of the problem, she wasted no time reaching out to the cadet post and offering the BFL facility as a location.
Det. Karen Apicella explained that, due to budget cuts, the cadet post no longer receives money from the Town of Southington. The pasta dinner is a main source of fundraising that the post depends on in order to continue the program. This year, cadets raised a grand total of $1,814.
“We knew we would have an issue since the Calendar House is being renovated right now,” said Apicella. “Bread for Life reached out to us and offered to let us host the dinner here, and that was really a huge help for us.”
The post raises money for many programs designed to train cadets for a career as a police officer throughout the year. The pasta dinner helps to raise funds for opportunities like the cadet academy in August (a week-long camp that trains cadets in real-life and classroom settings for around $500 per cadet) and a tactical challenge in October (cadets overcome obstacles and build leadership skills for around $250 for a team of six).
Additionally, the post is overdue for new uniforms (an order of 24 long-sleeve uniform shirts for $1,200 and short sleeve shirts for $528). They also need new winter coats (a cost of $1,400).
Cipriano said that she was happy to help the cadets.
“Bread for Life really wants to increase our outreach in the community and take on more events like this one,” she said. “The cadet program teaches leadership and teamwork, and is driven by a passion and a healthy respect and interest in what law enforcement does.”
Officer and co-advisor of the dinner, Joseph Grigerek, helped cadets prepare and organize the dinner.
“We are hopeful that everything runs smoothly and that we get a nice turnout so the cadets can achieve and do more in their training,” Grigerek said. “The cadet program is a way for youth to get a feel for what police work is like.”
Cadets meet twice a month at the police department and have opportunities to participate in learning experiences such as police ride-alongs and mock scenarios.
Many cadets are interested in becoming officers, but the program is not a pre-requisite to becoming an officer.
The program is open to ages 14-20 who have completed eighth grade and maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher in school with no serious disciplinary or criminal history.
To find out more about the post, visit southingtonpoliceexplorers.weebly.com.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.