Learning about cops, straight from the source


For nearly a century, the men and women of the Nassau County Police Department have put themselves on the line, protecting the communities they love. But how exactly do they do it?

Some 2,400 students from 23 schools across the county found out last week, as they were all invited to an open house at the police department’s David S. Mack Center for Training and Intelligence in Garden City.

Students ranging from kindergarten to those about to graduate high school received an opportunity to interact with law enforcement officers and learn about police work. Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun emphasized that interaction between students and officers was central to what the police department was trying to achieve.

“It’s all about community engagement,” he said. “Interaction with the students, exchanging ideas, and answering their questions. That’s the big thing because there’s a lot of myths about police work, and we bring out the truth. They get it right from somebody who’s actually a police officer.”

Each day of the open house featured a variety of activities as well as various demonstrations and exhibits — from watching the SWAT team in action, to interacting with K-9 units, to interacting with exhibits from the arson and bomb squad, emergency services unit and highway patrol bureau.

“It’s cool to be here this year,” said Karen Barrins, a fifth-grade teacher from Newbridge Road School in North Bellmore. “The kids can see all the different units where they could perhaps become involved in future careers with aviation, the K-9 unit, or the mounted unit.

“It’s important for them to know there are so many people that are willing to help them and that support them every day. If anything ever happens, we could always depend upon Nassau County police officers — but it gives them opportunities to think about their future. Being a police officer doesn’t just mean being in a car. There’s so many different things that they could do.”

Kyle Kelly, a forensics and special education teacher from Division Avenue High School in Levittown, brought his class to the open house for the first time. Many of his students are interested in forensic science.

“They have an opportunity to talk to people who have gone through the process before and see what different career opportunities there are within the police department,” Kelly said.

One of Kelly’s students, high school junior Justin Gesualdo, is interested in forensic psychology. The open house, he said was great to display the variety of different roles available in law enforcement.

“There are a lot more options than just being a cop, and there’s a lot of different things here,” Gesualdo said. “It’s definitely helping a lot of people out, so I think it’s a cool opportunity for us to get here and take the tour.”