‘Cop Camp’ in Falmouth gives kids inside look at Portland PD

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FALMOUTH — A mini police academy is probably not every kid’s idea of what summer camp should look like.

But for nearly 20 from around greater Portland, this week is exactly that, plus a way to experience what working in law enforcement is like.

Officer Andrew Hagerty of the Portland Police Department said the idea for a “Cop Camp” came about through discussions with the Falmouth Parks and Community Programs department on how to fill the often empty final weeks of summer.

Hagerty, who used to work for the Falmouth Police Department, said he wanted to set up the camp here because he is familiar with the town.

The camp, which runs through Aug. 14, is a pilot program of the PPD. Hagerty said if it is successful, the city may adopt it, either during the summer or during school breaks.

“It’s a fun week for kids who show interest in law enforcement,” Hagerty said, that also helps the kids see “how everything works,” and shows them the role of the officers within the community.

Kate Harris, recreation coordinator for the Falmouth Parks and Community Programs department, said the camp wasn’t just great for the kids who wanted to be in law enforcement, but also for the community, because it shows police officers “want to help out” and aren’t always after “bad guys.”

Hosted at the old Plummer building on Lunt Road, the camp was open to kids in third through sixth grades; 18 kids registered, and Hagerty said there was a small fee for the camp, which went back to the town.

Each starts with marching drills and an obstacle course. On Monday, the kids were put in groups, and Hagerty said  each group’s time in the obstacle course was recorded to measure improvement.

Officer Josh McDonald of the PPD, who helped design the course, said the goal was to get the kids working together. He said it was a great opportunity for the kids “to get come out and see exactly what we do.”

“My sticking point is teamwork,” McDonald said. He added the camp was designed to help the kids work together and not as individuals, and said it was great to see kids cheering for their squads.

But each day will have something different, too. On Monday, the campers were able to see police dog demonstrations, including obedience lessons, tracking and take-downs.

Basic self-defense, crime-scene investigation, a SWAT demonstration and a visit with the bomb squad are also planned. and Friday the bomb team will come. Each day will also include a visit from a local police chief or sheriff who will deliver a lesson around a word of the day, like “leadership,” “integrity,” or “honor.”

“I thought it’d be fun and give the kids a good look at how it actually works in a fun way,” Hagerty said. “Maybe it’s something they’ll want to get into when they’re older.”

Some of the kids came into the camp with law enforcement ambitions already in place.

Kyle Casey, an 8-year-old from North Yarmouth, said he came to the camp because being a police officer is what he wants to do when he grows up.

“I’ve always wanted to be a cop or a game warden,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Dennis Pograbitskiy, a 10-year-old from Falmouth. He said he also wants to be a police officer when he grows up, mostly because of the K-9 unit.

“The obstacle course and K-9 cops (were the best part),” Pograbitskiy said.

Some of the campers weren’t as certain about law enforcement as their future. Portland Siblings Declan and Hadleigh McPartlan, 10 and 8 respectively, said they went because their parents signed them up.

But they still managed to have fun.

“The police dogs were fun,” Hadleigh said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements


Each day the campers practice marching before heading out onto the obstacle course. Following that, there is a specific demonstration for the campers to learn more about law enforcement, including lessons from the SWAT team as well as the bomb squad.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.