Stratford, CT - Members of the Stratford Police Department brought their Police Engagement Program (PEP) to Criminal Justice students at Housatonic Community College (HCC) on Monday. Students reviewed cases and participated in police training scenarios, making split-second decisions, and coming away with a new understanding of what it means to be a police officer.
“I didn’t know what to do, I was very nervous,” said second-year student Jissette Irizarry after participating in a simulation that had her responding to a disturbance call with a subject walking towards her carrying a knife.
“Imagine if this is real life. Your heart rate increases, you’re nervous, imagine if it’s two in the morning and your backup is across town,” said Sgt. James Lofton.
The goal of the community outreach program, which has been in place for one year, is to build mutual trust and confidence with the community through education. Sgt. James Lofton and Lt. Curtis Eller share best practice police stop training, spreading their message of ‘Calm, Cool & Comply’ when it comes to being stopped by the police.
“Complying will save your life. If you have a complaint about being stopped, don’t take matters into your own hands. On the scene, your goal is to get home safe. If you feel you were wrongly stopped, on the street is not the time to make a complaint,” said Lofton.
Students also viewed body camera footage from actual police calls, reviewed high-profile police confrontation cases, and examined fourth amendment rights.
Retired detective Brian Enns, who now teaches Criminal Justice at HCC, brought the program to the students.
“This program helps to bridge the gap between the police and the community through communication. Two criminal justice classes are here today, but next semester I want to open it up college-wide,” said Enns. “Everyone needs to know what to do when stopped – complying will save your life.”