I attended an on-line Massachusetts Municipal Association program on reopening schools and police reforms. The Massachusetts Municipal Association has now made the program available to hear, so I am sharing the link to do so, as I found it instructive.
Medfield resident William Bento is featured in the Boston25News.com story below. Will is enrolled in the police academy at the Fitchburg State University, and is on a list to become an officer in the Medfield Police Department. Look carefully and you can see the MPD patch on his shoulder in this news story.
The Medfield Bento’s are a police family, as Will’s sister, Michelle Manganello, is an officer in the MPD, serving as the town’s School Resource Officer, and Will father, David Bento, is a Lieutenant on the Sherborn Police Department.
Local police recruits learning new lessons in era of reform
Local police recruits learning new lessons in era of reform
“There have been times where I’ve used force in my past and a lot of that was anger,” Chief Denmark told the recruits. “I got so wrapped up in what my task was in that moment, as opposed to what my purpose was in the bigger picture.”
The recruits are also dissecting mistakes officers around the country have made in hopes of avoiding similar situations. For example, recruits had to write a two-page essay on what the four officers did wrong in the George Floyd incident.
“When we spend 15 weeks here, you do what you’re told here when you’re told to do it and nothing more. I think it can be challenging to get out on the street and confront a veteran officer, but those are the skills that we are learning here to be able to step up and make those tough decisions,” Medfield Police recruit William Bento told Boston 25 News reporter Wale Aliyu.
Fitchburg State University Police Academy has a model of training and educating the recruits simultaneously, which they say is the first in the country.
“Research has shown that educated officers have less ‘use of force’ incidents, they have less deadly force incidents, they are better problem solvers,” academy director Lisa Lane McCarty said. “To their credit, this is not a great time to be going through a police academy. And they have these faces on that say ‘they will be the change,’” she added.
In the five-year program, the 21 recruits will get a criminal justice bachelors, a master’s degree, a police certification, and first-hand lessons on the ethics and nuances of policing.
“They need to understand the limitations of some of the things that we have tried or even some of the things people are suggesting now,” Chief Denmark said. “How is a certification going to change the way someone feels in their heart and their mind? It’s not going to. It may help to make sure we have the right education. But at two in the morning when a fight starts in the middle of the street that doesn’t matter.”
Four of the recruits already have jobs waiting for them. Benjamin Torrence will be joining the short-staffed Haverhill Police Department, and says as an officer of Color, he feels the pressure to bridge the gap.
“I do feel the pressure, but I know I’m not alone,” Torrence said. “I’m excited, my fellow recruits are excited, to get out on the street to make a difference.”
With calls to defund, and dismantle entire departments, these recruits know their goal is to provide change, one interaction at a time.
“We want to be able to change peoples’ perspective if they have a negative outlook on this job,” Bento said.
“This is all fear-driven,” said Chief Denmark. “This is cops fearing people which causes them to have heightened fear and feel they need to use force. And communities of color don’t trust the cops based on the history of this country. This goes far beyond policing so they’re afraid.”
I have been thinking this morning about the Town of Medfield employees who provide we residents with the services that allow our lives to continue with as much semblance of normalcy as possible at all times, but most especially in these truly unsettling circumstances we are currently experiencing. Our water goes on, public safety continues to serve us, the Transfer Station even added Sunday openings, and all the town government systems continue to function, if behind a digital curtain, all so that we residents can continue our lives.
The town employees are providing essential services, so while they likely share the same unease that envelopes us all, they continue to work their jobs. I wanted to publicly share with the Town of Medfield employees my sincere appreciation for their efforts and to thank them.
I am extremely appreciative of what all the town employees are doing now, working under difficult circumstances – I want to let them all know just how much this one resident, one who tries hard to observe closely the functioning of the town government so as to understand it as well as possible, truly appreciates what our team of town employees are accomplishing for we residents.
This tweet below from the Medfield Police Department about the appointment of Ryan Maxfield to be a Sergeant last night at the Select Board meeting. The family photo is missing his really cute older daughter, who I gave me a high five.
Eight candidates were also named to a list to be vetted for employment by the Medfield Police Department, at least two of whom grew up in town and one of whom is a firefighter.
MPD at a lemonade stand on Green Street this week –
Email sent to the Town Administrator yesterday with the above photo –
This afternoon I was happily buying a refreshing glass of lemonade at Green St. when I noticed three Medfield Police patrol cars pulling up. Jokingly I asked the kids if they had a permit for their stand. Their faces were priceless!
Great community work by three of your finest officers!
Chief Michelle Guerette was hired and officially started work the day of the annual town meeting (ATM), however, last night at the Board of Selectmen meeting there was a ceremonial swearing in by Town Clerk, Carol Mayer, and the Chief also received a heart medal from her youngest child, Murphy, who also marched with the Chief in the town’s Memorial Day parade the day before.
The Police Department will be conducting a multi-agency training event at the State Hospital grounds on Wednesday, May 22 from 8-3. Do not be alarmed at the increased police activity. If you would like to come to say hello, please remain outside of the designated training area for your safety
I started this blog to share the interesting and useful information that I saw while doing my job as a Medfield select board member. I thought that my fellow Medfield residents would also find that information interesting and useful as well. This blog is my effort to assist in creating a system to push the information out from the Town House to residents. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how it can be done better.
For information on my other job as an attorney (personal injury, civil litigation, estate planning and administration, and real estate), please feel free to contact me at 617-969-1500 or Osler.Peterson@OslerPeterson.com.