Friday, September 29, 2023

Young, Old Enjoy County’s Citizen Police Academy 4.26.2006

By Nick Colin

CREST HAVEN – Stanley Lepak, 83, of Villas is mighty quick on the draw. He registered a kill and wounded another with a shot to the stomach.
Shooting at a computer-generated perpetrator in the firearm simulator room at the county Police Academy April 18, the affable senior again impressed everyone in the room.
“Here’s an active 83-year-old guy who’s attending class every Tuesday and making every body laugh, it was just great,” said Diane Sorantino, citizen’s coordinator as well as Cape May police chief.
Lepak, along with 18 classmates, had just graduated from the Citizen’s Police Academy, enjoying their final lesson in law enforcement.
According to Sorantino, the 11-week program was an enhanced reincarnate of the 2003 class, both offered at the county Police Academy, and the fifth overall.
“This class is more hands-on than the instructor-student type setting and it physically showed them what we, as law enforcement officers, do,” said Sorantino.
The class met every Tuesday and explored emergency management, crime scene investigation, traffic-related activities like assessing drunk drivers, S.W.A.T. team tactics, and other facets.
It was the crimes against children segment of the class, though, that perhaps left the deepest impression in the students’ minds.
“We conducted an on-line demonstration to show the class how child predators operate in chat rooms and Web sites like,” explained Sorantino.
It took the class about five minutes to find an on-line perpetrator posing as a child.
Sorantino had to terminate the demonstration when it became apparent that officers would have to take action.
“The conversation got very graphic, but it was a real eye opener for the class,” she said.
The class also became certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the automated external defibrillator (AED), after spending two and a half classes learning techniques.
Families and seniors made up most of the class.
The Kaczor family of Ocean View graduated four and the Melchiorre family of Court House graduated two, but is was Lepak who garnered the vibrant applause of all in attendance when he went to the front of the stadium-seating classroom to receive his certificate from Freeholder Vice Director Ralph E. Sheets.
“Can you believe that?” Lepak humbly asked.
Lepak, a former steel plant worker, said he enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the “big shots,” and had only one complaint.
“When I saw the ad in the paper, I thought I was going to get to ride with the officers in a squad car, but I guess for insurance reasons it couldn’t happen,” said Lepak.
At 83, Lepak still takes care of his lawn, fixes up his house, “tinkers” around in the garage inventing things, and line dances at the senior center.
The next Citizen’s Police Academy course will be offered in the winter of 2007.
“The chiefs association is behind the program and feels that it is a really good thing,” said Sorantino.
“We had an age range of 14 to 83, which really goes to show that there is a broad interest in law enforcement and this seems like the venue for citizens to explore what we do,” she said.
Contact Colin at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 35 or

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