Former GITMO prison guards look to become cops in Massachusetts

PictureTelegram – by Samantha Allen

WORCESTER — In a classroom filled with former Guantanamo guards, Sgt. Richard Cipro spoke about the responsibility of a police officer to connect with the community and recognize conflict.

Touching on recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond, the Worcester police sergeant, who also serves as a major and instructor with the Massachusetts Army National Guard, spoke to about 35 soldiers of both the Massachusetts Air and Army National Guards who serve as military police.   

The MPs, looking to make a dramatic transition in their lives, have moved back home and are ready to pursue new careers. The Worcester Police Department is offering an accelerated 16-week police academy training program led by Sgt. Cipro to help them get law enforcement certification to become police officers.

Sgt. Cipro became emotional as he described the class, which he said is the first of its kind in the country.

“This is an opportunity,” he said, noting that one soldier told him the full-time sessions were “life-changing.”

Having just started Monday, the 35 men — who each paid $2,500 to take the class — began training in the ways of community policing. The guardsmen had just returned from their latest deployment to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba overseeing high-profile prisoners at the detention camp there.

In a period that would typically stretch over 35 weeks, the men will become certified in the next few months by studying such topics as ethics, defense tactics, conflict resolution measures and how to complete a municipal police report.

Air Force Sgt. Ryan Cunningham, 26, of Pembroke, said the reports are one of the biggest differences he found so far in the course. In his second day of training, he said, he learned that local police reports are far more detailed than others he’s taken.

Other men said this is as difficult as any other academy they’d heard of. Sgt. Cunningham said that after more than seven years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan, he was ready to embrace the change.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Andre added that he believed the academy was an incredible chance for him. The 33-year-old, who graduated from Auburn High School and now lives in Berlin, has served 16 years and said he has dreamed of being an officer since he was a child.

“I know there’s been a lot of work that’s gone into (this),” he said. Officials “are providing a great experience for us to continue our service to the commonwealth.”

Sgt. Kerry Hazelhurst, Worcester police public information officer, said the Police Department, which has about 330 patrol officers, typically has openings. He said as soon as the class graduates on May 1 the guardsmen, if interested, could be ready to enter the Worcester force.

Sgt. Cipro said the pilot program will save cities and towns money, because applicants will be ready immediately to join police departments with complete training in Worcester and in the military. He said his goal is for the National Guard to recognize the program across the country and apply it elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Former GITMO prison guards look to become cops in Massachusetts

  1. “In a classroom filled with former Guantanamo guards…..”
    ” the 35 men — who each paid $2,500 to take the class..”

    With unemployment nearing 50% in this country, they’d have no trouble finding new cops without tapping into the Gitmo torture team, so this tells you exactly what they’re looking for in a cop.

    They don’t want members of the community to police their community. They need sadistic bastards with a long history of remorseless brutality to accomplish their goals.

  2. Former Gitmo guards. What could possibly go wrong? My sympathies to the people of Worcester. Another notch up in one of the most oppressive police states in America.

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