A group of eight high school juniors from Mattituck, Greenport, Shelter Island and Southold schools in New York recently had the opportunity to learn about the work of law enforcement officers through a recent job shadow day with the Southold Town Police Department.
“We got the real deal of what happens in the day in the life of a cop,” Mattituck student Ella Wirth said.
Throughout the day, students were given a tour of the police headquarters and watched dispatch officers respond to 9-1-1 calls. They also witnessed a K-9 sniff out evidence and were able to sit in the cockpit of a Suffolk County police helicopter.
Reflecting on his experience, 16-year-old Mattituck student Jackson Frend said: “I learned cops have different jobs that they do. It’s not just one job on the streets; they can branch off into multiple different jobs, which is cool.”
The job shadow day provides young people in the community with an opportunity to explore various career interests and is a long-standing tradition for the North Fork and Shelter Island high schools. Other career professionals in the community, such as those who work at Port of Egypt Marine, also participated in the event.
Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley noted that officers look forward to volunteering during the event and are eager to showcase their work to young people.
“It’s a break from their normal duties during the daytime,” Flatley told The Suffolk Times. “They like to show off what they do and explain what they do. They have kids in the school districts, too, so there’s never any problem getting volunteers for this day.”
Students were particularly excited about the K-9 demonstration, where Officer Shawn Williams and his partner, Solo, a 3-year-old German shepherd, demonstrated how they canines use their keen sense of smell to locate evidence. Williams shared that Solo views all of his tasks as play, not work, and that the dog can find missing or elderly people.
In addition, Captain James Ginas gave a drone demonstration, explaining how the device can help police detect heat signatures and even drop flotation devices to people in need of rescue on the water. Two officers from the Suffolk County Police Department also flew in via helicopter and allowed the students to sit in the cockpit.
Additionally, highway patrol officers taught the students how to spot speeding motorists on Route 48. Flatley explained that it is best to visually identify the fastest cars before using the Lidar scanner, which is more accurate than a radar gun when detecting the speed of a single vehicle. The students were able to use the Lidar gun to measure the speeds of passing cars.
Finally, students were shown how paramedics go about giving life-saving medical treatments during emergencies.
The students appreciated the opportunity to experience a day in the life of law enforcement officials, and some said they were even inspired to pursue careers in law enforcement.