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Police cadets needed
By Jennifer Roy / Tribune Staff Writer
Monday, September 13, 2004

WALTHAM -- Do you have common sense, speak in layman's terms, have a grasp of grammar and a flair for math?

If you answered "yes," the Waltham Police Department wants you.

Sgt. Rob Robillard is looking for new cadets -- men and women between the ages of 18 and 24.

"We are going through a massive recruitment drive," he said.

Cadets fingerprint and photograph prisoners, answer business and emergency calls, take police reports, conduct warrant checks and maintain police records.

The city's latest cadet exam -- administered when the list of potential cadets is wiped out -- will be given at the high school at 9 a.m. on Oct. 30.

"It's actually a pretty tough exam," said Robillard. "A lot of people fail."

He said about one-third of the people who took the last test in 2002 did not pass.

"There is no way to study, no handbook and no preparation," said Robillard. "It's all common sense stuff."

An informational meeting about the program will be held at the police station on Sept. 26 at 9 a.m.

Robillard said he has posted information on and has sent fliers to recent high school graduates, police chiefs throughout the state and area colleges and churches.

"The cadet program is an awesome stepping stone for someone to get their foot in the door," he said. "They come in knowing the cops, the department and the streets."

The timed, four-part exam costs $40, though the fee can be waived by the city, Robillard said.

Candidates on Medicaid, who are unemployed, on welfare, living in low-income housing or receive fuel assistance or food stamps, are just a few of the people who may not have to pay to take the test.

Cadets, Robillard said, must have a high school diploma and be enrolled in college. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply, he said.

Jason Lambert has been a cadet for four years. The 22-year-old Waltham resident and aspiring police officer said, "You don't even have to study for it."

Cadet John Piccirilli took the test in 2002, and now the 23-year-old Waltham man is ready to join the force.

"We had to write up a mock police report," he said. "The only pressure was time."

The men, both night students at the Norwood campus of Western New England College, are two of 10 cadets who spend their shifts answering phones, helping out at the front counter and working with officers to book prisoners. Shiny "cadet" pins gleam on their collars.

"These guys have a certain comfort level. They know what's going on and we know them," Robillard said. "It's a great opportunity to preview before we buy."

Cadets must live in Waltham when they take the test, or agree to move to the city if they are hired. They earn $30,000 a year, receive benefits, but cannot be a cadet past the age of 24.

Robillard said cadets who reach the age limit are either hired as full-time officers, or are moved to another position within the department.

"Anyone can take the exam if they are willing to move to the city," Robillard said. "It's a huge stepping stone. It's a great opportunity, if they don't mess up."

He said more than 90 percent of cadets are hired as Waltham Police officers.

"I'd have to think hard to come up with a cadet we didn't hire," he said.

Applications for the exam have not been printed, but information about the cadet program can be obtained by calling him at 781-314-3522 or by e-mail at [email protected].

The last day to apply for the exam is Oct. 22.
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