The Amesbury High School Class of 2019 will walk into Landry Memorial Stadium, weather permitting, tonight as students and exit as adults. While many adults reflect back upon their high school years and wish they could go back in time, the graduates of today are likely ready to tackle the real world. Although we face an array of challenges and obstacles in society, the world is also full of dreams and tremendous opportunities. Graduates should be encouraged to pursue their dreams and take advantage of the opportunities out there. You’ll certainly encounter detours along the way but always keep moving forward and be determined to succeed. Some will enter the work force; many will go onto further their education and others will go on to serve in our armed forces.

On behalf of the Amesbury Police Department, I would like to wish the Class of 2019 the very best as they prepare for success. Please remember that you’ll always be a part of our community, regardless of where the future takes you.

As celebrations continue throughout the weekend and next few weeks, graduates are urged to be responsible and to stay safe. The legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages is 21 for a reason and providing alcohol to anyone underage is illegal and dangerous. Alcohol use by young people can result in poor decision making and tragedies – it’s not worth the risk. Parents and guardians are urged to be involved and encourage young people to remain substance free.

I’m nearing the end of the 23 week “Flashback” series and this week, it’s 1997, which was quite a year for community policing in Amesbury. We held a DARE night at the Amesbury Sports Park with the New England Patriots cheerleaders, the APD website hit the internet, every student in grades K-6 received their own personalized McGruff safety book and Patriot Hall of Famer John Hannah appeared at the National Night Out in the Millyard. There were “Cops in Shops” to address underage drinking, the Traffic Commission got rolling and we even worked with the city on a Trash Task Force as recycling came to Amesbury.

My highlight of 1997 was when we hosted the first Citizen Police Academy Program that spring. Sgt. Lee Frost and I got the program started and several department members joined the effort. About 20 participants took the eight-week course and learned a lot about policing in the city as well as how we work with other parts of the criminal justice system. We toured the House of Correction in Middleton, they did ride-alongs, learned about crime scene investigations and much more. It was a tremendous experience for participants and officers; in fact, Sgt. Barry Coker and Detective Ray Landry attended the class. We had such a great response and held a second class in the fall of 1997.

In next week’s column, we go back to 1996, when my tenure as crime prevention officer began. I’ve really enjoyed flipping through the community policing scrapbooks these past few months, reliving a lot of memorable moments and hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane, too.

Officer Tom Hanshaw is the crime prevention officer for the Amesbury Police Department.

 

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