Youth Police Cadets named 2019 Volunteers of the Year

The 26 youth cadets in the Westfield Police Department were honored with the city’s Volunteer of the Year Award, for which they were nominated by former Mayor Brian P. Sullivan. (Photo by Peter Currier)

WESTFIELD- The Youth Cadets of the Westfield Police Department were honored as the 2019 Westfield Volunteers of the Year Jan. 13 during the Police Commission meeting at City Hall. 

The Youth Cadets were selected as the Volunteers of the Year by former Mayor Brian P. Sullivan. The award was given to reflect the volunteer hours the cadets put in during the 2019 calendar year. Officer Chris Coach presented the 26 cadets with their certificates acknowledging the award.

“When I was in high school I went to the first meeting of the Westfield Police Explorers. I have been pretty much involved with the program ever since,” said Coach, “When we [himself and Det. Chris Mazza] were able to take over the program as the two main advisors, it was a great thing, and we know where these guys have been.”

Coach said that in 2019, the cadets put in a total of more than 1,100 volunteer hours in the City of Westfield, including 200 hours for events relating to Westfield’s 350th birthday celebrations. 

Since 2018, seven of the cadets have turned 21, aging them out of the program. An additional four of them have become auxiliary officers, one became a full time police officer, one has taken a position as an officer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and several more are expected to take reserve officer positions in Westfield in the near future.

“A tremendous amount of credit goes to Officer Coach and Detective Mazza as well,” said Police Chief Lawrence P. Valliere. “Their dedication to this program really is what keeps it going and keeps the kids moving towards the top.”

The Westfield Police Cadets, formerly known as the Westfield Police Explorers, was created in 1994 under the Boy Scouts of America. The name was changed in 2015 when they became a part of the Northeast Regional Law Enforcement Education Association (NERLEEA). 

The program is open to those aged 14 to 20, and allows the kids to get an early understanding of some of the training and day-to-day life involved with being a police officer. The cadets can often be seen at events in the city assisting the fulltime law enforcement.

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