Officer Jason Dowd plans to launch a week-long police experience program over April vacation to give interested students a glimpse into the daily work of a police officer.

Dowd, the Andover High school resource officer, has been working with Sergeant Chad Cooper from the Andover Police Department to develop this program for AHS students. The first two days of the five-day program will give the students an overview of the ethics of policing and the basics of the court system.

“We want to explain what makes up a law, the elements of a crime for instance,” said Dowd.

During the third and fourth days of the program, students will become certified in CPR and will learn some of the defensive tactics used by police officers. The last day of the program will be dedicated to applied patrol scenarios where the students will need to apply what they learned over the past four days to some typical scenarios seen while on the job. Some of the possible scenarios include traffic stops and domestic violence calls.

“I hope to give them a greater understanding of what they want to go into,” Dowd said, “or a greater reality of what they will be going into.”

The classes and the CPR training will be taught in the amphitheater at the Andover Police Station while the mock scenarios will most likely take place at Andover High School. The classes will remain relatively small, approximately 10-20 students per class, to provide better one-on-one interaction between the instructors and the students. The program will be funded by the Andover Police Department and will be free of charge for the students.

Other programs like this have been held in Leominster, Massachusetts, and Saco, Maine, through their local civilian police academies. Dowd does not think that any town particularly needs a program like this, but he “wanted to give people access to what [he] does.”

Dowd has only recently learned that the pilot program will be run over April vacation. He and Cooper plan to spread the word by hanging posters with contact information around the school, by making announcements at the school, and possibly by publishing an article in the local newspaper.

“This is a pretty big undertaking; I don’t think anything like this has ever been done in Andover before,” said Dowd. “Although I didn’t have this access when I came here and wanted to be a cop, I wish I did.”

If the pilot program is a success, Dowd and Cooper hope to continue the program and offer it over the April vacation as well as certain weeks over the summer.

By Morgan Starkweather