Ashley Del Vecchio is not your average college student. Since May, the 21-year-old Fairfield resident survived a grueling series of tests to get to where she is today: a newly sworn-in Westport police officer. But her journey has only just begun.
Starting today, the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden will be Ashley's new home Mondays through Fridays for the next five-and-a-half months as she begins training. As such, she plans on gaining the remainder of her college credits at the academy.
And though she has endured written, physical fitness, psychological and polygraph exams, a full background investigation, an interrogation-style interview, and a meeting with the police chief, Ashley said she's a little nervous.
"I don't know what to expect," said Ashley, a 2007 Fairfield Warde High graduate. "I think it will be a culture shock for me. I know it's paramilitary, and I've never been through anything like that."
Nonetheless, this new recruit, who was selected over six other applicants, said she's ready.
Currently a senior sociology major at Eastern Connecticut State University with a minor in criminal justice, Ashley said becoming a police officer was something she's thought about since high school.
"I've always had positive experiences with the police. I was never scared of them," she said. As a student athlete who has played lacrosse and field hockey since high school, Ashley said the team atmosphere is attractive.
In summer 2009, her desire to become a police officer was affirmed when she interned at the Fairfield Police Department. She enjoyed it so much, she interned there again this past summer.
"I know there's more to being a police officer than pulling people over," she said.
Once she graduates from the academy, Ashley still has to complete 400 hours of field training with the department to become a certified police officer.
"One day, you're a regular college student and the next, you're hard work pays off," she said. "I'm so honored and privileged to be a part of the Westport Police Department ."
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