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From applicant to officer

BURLINGTONBack in January, recruiting officers from the Burlington Police Department, Steve Dixon and John Federico, reported that in the past few years both the number and quality of applicants has been down. Between that and the long and arduous road to becoming a full-fledged officer, make it difficult to keep a full force of staff around, the officers reported. Despite these adversities, the Burlington Police Department has a new crop of officers that Lieutenant Kathleen Stubbing described as very impressive. Recruiting officers reported earlier that they draw from a wide pool of applicants to get just the right people for the job. Thats how the department was able to find Rene Berti, Mass., Eric Belleville, Mass., Austin Goodman, O.H., David Pfindel, V.A., and Richard Volp, from Minnesota. These six new police officers were sworn in at a ceremony on Feb. 2 in which departments staff, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, and family and friends of the new officers were in attendance. Police Chief Thomas Tremblay swore in each officer as they took their oaths of office, promising to uphold the constitution and protect their communities. Also at the ceremony, new officers are paired with senior officers who will serve as their mentors through their training period. Stubbing said, this serves as a support system and mentorship and new officers can communicate with their partners while at academy. She said it has been a good system where officers have formed lasting friendships. Two days after the ceremony, the officers entered the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. The rigorous 16-week residential academy is held two times a year for new officers. Including both pre- and post-basic training, new hires have a 31 week process to becoming new officers, followed by a year-long probationary period. Lieutenant Stubbing described the academy as very rigorous. Its not insurmountable, she said, But there are high expectations, and you have to meet them. Thats a good thing, she added. However the rigorous academy involves three phases that Burlingtons newest hires will undergo. The first Stubbing described as extremely regimented, which she said, is in place to make sure that everyone is dealing with stressful situations and comes together to work in teams. The second phase of the academy is less regimented, but still enforces teamwork and instilling skills and knowledge in new officers. In the third phase, Stubbing said that everything comes together, the values of teamwork and respect have been learned, and the skills have been honed. While she said there really are no reliable statistics about how many officers make it through the process, she did stress the difficulty of the academy and said that it just depends on how individuals handle the stress of the situation and that each group is different from the next. Lt. Stubbing said that the Burlington Police Department is still looking to hire officers and emergency communications specialists in their dispatch department. We encourage people to look at our Web site and find out more about joining our team, said Stubbing. Although the next Vermont Police Academy does not start until mid-summer, the long application process makes now the time to start, said Stubbing. Editor's note: This story is the second part of an occasional series that follows the newest group of Burlington police officers as they embark on their journey from applicants to officers.

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