EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 15, 2012

Students prepare for police work

SALEM, N.H. — While Brandyn Costa did push-ups, a police officer screamed at him like a drill sergeant.

Costa, 21, received a taste of the physical agility test he will have to pass to become a police officer in his hometown of Salem.

Hesser College held its Criminal Justice Career Preparation Day for students Thursday. Officers from the Salem Police Department and the Essex County Correctional Facility came to speak to students.

Salem Sgt. Shane Smith warned the group of about 20 criminal justice majors not to delay preparing for their police exams.

"We're going to teach you little things to make sure you can pass the physical fitness test," he said. "Don't wait until the last minute, start working out now. On the street, we have to be on top of our game physically."

Michael Frost, assistant superintendent for the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, Mass., said prospective officers often aren't prepared for the exam.

"I've been in many criminal justice classes and the people don't have a realistic comprehension of what it takes to get a job in law enforcement," Frost said.

"They think all it takes is the degree, but it's much more," he said. "We only have a 25 percent success rate in our physical agility test. We've had people show up to the test that can't do three sit-ups."

The class was run by Jeffrey Czarnec, chairman of the criminal justice department at Hesser and a former Manchester police officer.

"This is a great chance for you to get an idea what they're looking for in the industry," he told students. "Salem is a great police department and they get the pick of the litter. It's tough, but it's worth it. I loved being a police officer. I've been retired 10 years and I still miss it."

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