By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER - Tyler Cookson of St. Albans buckled up, locked his thumbs in the nine and three o'clock position on the steering wheel of a 1997 Ford Crown Victoria on Thursday and maneuvered the car around several cones during a driving exercise at Dexter Municipal Airport.
The Nokomis High School student's first try at weaving around the bright orange cones lined up on the tarmac went smoothly and elicited praise from Steve Spaulding, a passenger in the vehicle.
His second try, however, wasn't as successful. Increasing his speed, Cookson cut the wheels too hard at one cone, causing the vehicle to spin out of control and skid sideways several feet off the runway.
It was a lesson for Cookson to learn.
A student in the Tri-County Technical Center's criminal justice program, Cookson was participating in the. Emergency Vehicle Operation Course, one of the final requirements of the program.
"EVOC is designed to teach them what their capabilities are and what the capability of the vehicle is," said Spaulding, a retired state trooper and the course instructor.
"That's a prime example of overdriving your speed," Spaulding told Cookson after the hair-raising incident. "You were going way too fast."
Since 1996, Spaulding has worked with students in the tri-county region from Newport to Greenville to Milo who are interested in entering law enforcement or the military.
The course he teaches is one of six offered in the state at the high-school level, according to Spaulding.
Schools in Augusta, Westbrook, Oxford Hills, Lewiston and Waldo County also offer the course. In Dexter, the course is structured like the military and law enforcement with a colonel, lieutenants and sergeants. Spaulding is a "colonel."
"I think it's a very valuable course," Spaulding said during a break in the maneuvers last week. "It gives kids an idea what it takes to be a police officer."
They find that good ethics and discipline are important factors for both law enforcement and the military, he said.
Holli Pullen, 23, the first female to graduate from the program and become a law enforcement officer, said the course was extremely beneficial.
After she graduated from Dexter Regional High School, Pullen enrolled in the criminal justice program at University College in Bangor and later joined the Norway Police Department. She attended the police academy in August and became a certified officer, she said Saturday.
Pullen said the technical center's program is an intensive one that is better than the 100-hour course offered to police recruits. She credited Spaulding for making the program interesting.
Former student Stephen Morrell, 20, said the program cemented his career choice. The Nokomis High School graduate serves with the Maine Air National Guard security force and is enrolled in the criminal justice program at Husson College.
"I knew I wanted to be a state trooper and it was kind of the clincher," Morrell said of the course. He credited the success of the program to Spaulding, who he said was not only an instructor, but a mentor.
Chris Glidden, a Dexter Regional High School senior who wants to become a crime scene investigator, said the course has played a very important role in his studies.
Glidden, who won the state crime scene investigation event at the state technical center skills contest earlier this year, will represent Maine at the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., next month.
"It's a very nice course," said Piscataquis Community High School student Ryan Richardson. "He's got lots of experience and he always has lots of stories to go with it," he said of Spaulding. "He gives us real life experiences."
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|