Conant student learns the law enforcement ropes

  • Through the Extended Learning Opportunity program, Conant junior Jillian Patria was able to spend close to 60 hours with Rindge Sergeant Rachel Malynowski during the spring semester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Through the Extended Learning Opportunity program, Conant junior Jillian Patria was able to spend close to 60 hours with Rindge Sergeant Rachel Malynowski during the spring semester. Patria was interested in learning what it's like to be a female officer in a small department and see if it's a career she would like to pursue. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Through the Extended Learning Opportunity program, Conant junior Jillian Patria was able to spend close to 60 hours with Rindge Sergeant Rachel Malynowski during the spring semester. Patria was interested in learning what it's like to be a female officer in a small department and see if it's a career she would like to pursue. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/11/2019 1:13:18 PM

Jillian Patria admits her interest in police work probably came from “watching too many cop shows.”

There was just something about the line of work that fueled her curiosity. It was late in middle school when she wondered if it would be the right job for her one day, at a time when a lot of students don’t have a clue what they want to do with their lives. Although unlike working in a restaurant, on a construction crew or at a newspaper, getting experience in police work is not the easiest for a 17-year-old high school student.

But thanks to the Extended Learning Opportunity program at Conant, Patria spent 57 hours with Rindge Sergeant Rachel Malynowski during the spring semester, culminating with a 30-minute presentation at the school last week.

Living in Rindge and wanting to really know what it was like being a female officer in a small town department, Patria sent Malynowski an email seeing if the veteran Rindge officers had time to teach her the ropes.

“She had to do a lot of work to set this up,” said Dayna Jackson, ELO program coordinator. “But it was totally motivated by her passion.”

At first Malynowski wasn’t sure she could add anything else to her full plate, but once she had a chance to sit down with Patria, Malynowski couldn’t say no.

“I put myself in her shoes,” Malynowski said. “And if this is truly what she wanted to do as a profession, I wanted to help her.”

It became apparent early on that Patria was passionate and had an unquenchable thirst for all that comes with being a police officer.

The ELO option for students has been around for many years, but Jackson said that most of them are done like a career shadow or community service for only a portion of the credits. But Patria took it to a level that very few have in the past.

In addition to the close to 60 hours spent with Malynowski, Patria spent countless hours researching the role of a police department and its officers, had ongoing assignments from Jackson and put together her power point presentation – all in addition to the rest of her class schedule.

“This is the model of what we want all students to do,” said Conant Principal Brett Blanchard.

Patria gave up many Saturday nights to go out on patrol, where she had to stay in the cruiser during traffic stops due to her age and safety. But she got to observe and ask questions after, and feel the thrill when the blue lights came on.

“When on patrol, you always want to be aware of what’s going on around you,” Patria said. “It can turn very dangerous, very quickly.”

Malynowski said she went fairly in depth with Patria because the Conant student continuously wanted more information. She was serious about wanting to become a police officer and this was her best – and maybe only – chance to get the first-hand knowledge that so many young students should look for when trying to decide upon a career path.

“She never wanted to go home,” Malynowski said. “And I truly think this is just the start to a long career for her.”

In order to take part in the program, Patria had to have a focus for her project. She wanted to look at what the Rindge Police Department does and how they do it.

“I wanted to know what it was like to be a female officer,” Patria said.

In her presentation, she included statistics, information about the department and how the officers are trained. She talked about the importance of community policing and being able to engage residents.

“Establishing a connection with the community is important,” Patria said. “They can really make a difference, even if it’s only one person at a time.”

One thing she learned was how important knowing the geography of a town is, because when a call comes in, there’s isn’t time to check Google Maps, and keeping impeccable records can’t be understated.

“I wanted to see what they deal with on a daily basis,” Patria said.

And through this opportunity she now has a career in mind.

“From ELO, I truly learned this is what I want to do,” she said. “It was amazing and I enjoyed it a lot. If someone can find something they enjoy this much, they should definitely do this.”

“She was kind of my guinea pig and I want to see more kids get an experience like this,” Jackson said. “I want to get kids connected with someone in the community to learn things for the real world.”

Since she can’t go into the academy until she’s 21, Patria plans on going to college and then going into law enforcement. She’s not sure whether she’ll end up in the FBI or state police, but she did say it would be kind of neat to get her start in Rindge – once again working right alongside of Malynowski.

“I told her if she ever needed a job to let me know,” Malynowski said.




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