The Seaford Police department held a graduation ceremony recently for the 27 individuals who participated in the first “Citizens Police Academy. The academy, coordinated by instructor Cpl. Frank Bradley, was held by the police department as a way to allow participants to have a first-hand account of what the job of a police officer and dispatcher entails.
During the academy, participants learned all aspects of police work including patrols, investigations, and administrative operations. They also participated in real-life interactive scenarios with officers. The class started in January and was held for eight weeks. The graduation ceremony was held at the Nanticoke Senior Center on March 20.
Opening the event, Deputy Chief Michael Rapa thanked the officers and graduates of the Citizens Academy and promised that this would be an annual program within the Seaford Police Department. “We will definitely be continuing the Citizens Police Academy next year, so please spread the word,” he said. “This class was an opportunity to present a painting, just a little snapshot of what we do to help the community have a better understanding. That’s all we really desired; to provide an opportunity for people to understand a little better what we do.”
Cpl. Bradley said he is proud of the first class of the academy and their willingness to “step up.” He said, “I am just so happy to see this first class graduating tonight,” he said. “This class represents a bridge between the police officers and our community. I cannot wait to get started on another class so we can build even more bridges and establish more connections in our community. Congratulations go out to the first-ever graduating class of the Citizens Police Academy. We are so grateful you stepped up to be a part of this and we look forward to starting real soon on our next class.”
Also in attendance was Seaford Mayor Genshaw who said the Citizens Academy was a great resource for citizens to “get to know the police officers” and understand what their job entails on a daily basis. “A bigger part of this was building relationships between our community and our police officers,” he said. “These officers are tasked with some really tough work to keep us safe, but they are also tasked as economic development directors helping the people who are trying to grow our town and to ensure the safety of our community. That safety is critically important, but having that relationship with our public is also very important.”
Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major George Horvath, of Magnolia, was guest speaker for the event. Horvath, a 32-year veteran of the military as a non-commissioned officer, also attended and graduated from the recent Seaford Police Department’s Citizens Academy. Horvath expressed his appreciation for the work that the officers and dispatchers did throughout the academy to explain the many facets of the police department operations.
He told the audience that a “snapshot” of the police department indicates there are 25 uniformed officers, including a female detective sergeant, a dispatch administrator and eight dispatchers. He said four of the personnel have served in the military, including three in the U.S. Marines and one who served in the U.S. Army. All personnel have college experience and an average of 12.29 years of law enforcement experience.
Horvath closed his presentation by answering a question from a member of the audience who inquired as to why he came to be a part of the Citizens Police Academy. “Why would a 76-year-old guy from Magnolia drive down to Seaford to participate in the Citizens Police Academy?”
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I retired from the military after 32 years. I lost all my colleagues in uniform. I have adopted the men and women who put on the uniform and go toward the sound of gunfire without hesitation. I have a deep love and appreciation for law enforcement. I met (former Seaford Police) Chief Robert Kracyla in the gymnasium at the Dover Air Force Base and he told me about the Citizens Police Academy. I knew I wanted to be a part of this project. I am so glad I came.”
Horvath said the community of Seaford could be extremely proud of the work of their local police officers. “These men and women train hard and consistently to remain proficient in what they do,” he said. “They face danger every time they walk out of that police department and get into that police car, even if it only involves cruising around for patrols. There is no such thing as anything in law enforcement being routine.”
He went on to say that, the Citizens Academy also reminded the participants how important their role is in helping the police officer do their job. “The police work hard to respond to the security needs of the community; this is their mission. They want us to be able to help them. They want us to be proactive in our community. They need us to be willing to report suspicious activities and help them whenever we can. The more we build a relationship between the community and the police, the more trust there is to work together to help the officers protect and serve.”
Former Police Chief Kracyla made a special appearance during the Citizens Police Academy and spoke highly of the graduates and the officers for their partnership in making the first academy a success. Kracyla recently became chief of police in Middletown. While in Seaford, he was instrumental in promoting a community policing philosophy among the police officers. He also developed the concept for the Citizens’ Police Academy and forged a partnership with the local Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club to hold an upcoming “Youth Police Academy,” at the club during spring break.
“I am so happy to be here tonight. For me this is a homecoming. I felt like I was coming home as I drove down here. I mean that. I have become emotionally attached to this community,” he said. “I feel like I bonded really, really well with not just the men and women of the Seaford Police Department, but the community as well. I miss everyone so much.”
Kracyla said he feels immense pride in the members of the police department and talks about them “all the time.” He said, “I brag about the Seaford Police Department. This is a really good police department. I am so proud of things that go on here. I am so happy that the graduates of this police academy are able to be a part of that. I learned so much from everyone here. I am a better person for having spent time in Seaford. That is a credit to these men and women in uniform, but also to the community and the mayor and city council and staff.”
Kracyla said the graduates were very fortunate to have experienced time with the Seaford Police Department. “These people here are warriors,” he said. “You who are celebrating your graduation tonight are fortunate to have been able to spend time with a group of men and women who have such energy. I am just so proud. I am proud of you for taking the initiative to go through this program.”
Kracyla said he admits that he is taking much he learned while in Seaford back to his new police department. “I am trying to copy things I saw while here,” he said. “No one can deny it; Seaford is a very special community. Everyone should be proud of the community you have here. I am so grateful that everyone accepted me while I was here, and still do. I am a very lucky man to have been around you and associated with you. You will always be friends to me and if I can ever do anything for you I am here.”
Each graduate was called to the front of the room by Cpl. Bradley and presented with a graduation certificate. Among the graduating class was Bradley’s father, Frank Bradley Jr.