I jumped at the opportunity to welcome students from Fitchburg State to my department. I’m glad these young adults could put themselves in a police cruiser and see if this is something they want to do full-time.
Mashpee Police Sgt. Ryan Nardone ’06 is passionate about serving his community and playing a positive role in its safety. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed that mission, but it’s made a significant impact on the day-to-day experience of being a police officer.
“We’re very reactive now, and not as proactive as we used to be,” Nardone said. “It’s difficult to report to a shift and have that personable approach that we’re used to. Everything is done over the telephone now, because people want to stay in their houses.”
The volume of police calls for Nardone’s Cape Cod community has dropped significantly since the start of the pandemic, and no one knows what the future holds. “This could be the new norm or this could be over this summer,” he said. “Most officers want to be proactive, go out there and help the public. They don’t want to be call-takers. Every day is different and that’s what pushed me to this profession.”
Nardone said Fitchburg State’s police program – whose graduates complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice as well as certification to serve in municipal police departments – is a potential game-changer for the profession.
“They’re at a huge advantage above students at other colleges,” he said. “I envy them. It’s new and cutting edge, but education is key nowadays. People aren’t getting hired in my profession without degrees. The public wants a well-educated individual to protect and serve. If a college-educated kid is coming out with an advanced degree and already completed a full-time police academy, they’re going to get scooped up.”
Nardone saw that same spirit in the Fitchburg State criminal justice students he invited to shadow him on the job earlier this academic year. “I loved the shadowing experience,” he said. “I jumped at the opportunity to welcome students from Fitchburg State to my department. I’m glad these young adults could put themselves in a police cruiser and see if this is something they want to do full-time.”
One of those students was Christopher Dickey ’20, who spent several hours with Sgt. Nardone over winter break. “I loved being with him,” Dickey said. “He’s an awesome guy, really down to earth and really looks out for his community. That’s his number one priority.”
Dickey was grateful for another perspective on public safety. Dickey is studying criminal justice and had an internship this spring with the U.S. Marshals Service through the university’s affiliation with The Washington Center. While he saw a lot in his two months in the nation’s capital, the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, cut the internship short.
His experiences with Sgt. Nardone and in Washington, D.C. only cemented his commitment to his chosen career path, said Dickey.
This story was first published in the online edition of the Summer 2020 issue of Contact, the university's alumni magazine.