Twelve local residents with developmental disabilities gathered with family and friends at the Wakefield Police Department on February 27 for a graduation ceremony of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) Special Citizens Academy.
The Special Citizens Academy is designed for individuals with developmental disabilities who have an interest in public safety, and the MSO has held it across Middlesex County since 2017. The February academy was held with the assistance of the Wakefield Police Department and Massachusetts Department of Fire Safety.
“The Special Citizens Academy is an opportunity for these residents to explore and experience the world of public safety,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “Not only do these graduates learn about staying safe, but they form relationships and memories with officers in their community that they will never forget.”
Academy participants attended classes on issues such as Internet safety and awareness, fire safety and first aid, and scam prevention. They also met officers from some of the MSO’s specialized units, toured the Wakefield Police and Fire Departments, and saw demonstrations from MSO K-9s Dillon and Pebbles.
“The Wakefield Police Department is honored to have the opportunity to partner with Sheriff Koutoujian and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office as well as with the Department of Fire Services,” said Police Chief Rick Smith. “These programs are a wonderful experience for not only the participants but for our officers as well. It is all about team building and we are focused on doing just that. The end game it to make our communities more informed and safer. This is only done through partnerships.”
Over 90 individuals have now graduated the Special Citizens Academy since Sheriff Koutoujian began the program in 2017, with courses being held in Belmont, Newton and at the MSO Training Academy in Chelmsford. Interested participants and caregivers can contact Community Affairs Director Ken Doucette by phone at 978-495-7408 to register for a future Academy.