Michael Wynn, Social Community Manager
When the Champlain Towers South condominium building collapsed suddenly in Surfside, FL, second-year Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Criminal Justice double major, Dylan Altieri, was on vacation with his family just a few miles away. Watching the coverage on TV, he immediately began recalling a lot of what he learned in the introductory emergency management courses he took last year.
“Everything I learned in my first and second semester, I actively got to see in play and knew what they were talking about,” Altieri recalled. “I saw on the news everything we learned as far as protocols and FEMAs role.”
Helping others, protecting the community, and dealing with crises is not only something he is passionate about but is in his blood. Growing up, several of his family members worked in emergency management and law enforcement. Inspired by their selflessness and dedication to society, Altieri pursued opportunities to serve and protect, including studying for his Emergency Medical Technician license, which he’s one exam away from earning. Never one to turn down an opportunity, he jumped at the chance to volunteer for the Waterbury Police Explorer’s Academy, which returned to campus this summer.
“I had a class with Professor Jannetty my first semester and we stayed in touch and I created a relationship with him,” Altieri said. “He asked me to help out with the camp to get to know the campus and get to know other professionals in the field since we’re doing a lot that is directly related to the job.”
“Dylan is an excellent student and has shown remarkable maturity for his age,” said Professor David Jannetty, program chair for Emergency Management and Homeland Security and faculty coordinator for the Police Explorer’s Academy. “He has also expressed his desire to start a career in law enforcement after he graduates. Coupled with the fact that he lives close to campus, I thought he would be an ideal candidate to assist me with the administrative aspects of the Police Explorer’s Academy.”
Career-readiness is an integral component of all phases of the student experience. That is precisely why, according to Jannetty, these opportunities are important for all students to pursue, regardless of where they are on their academic journey.
“This is an opportunity for volunteers [like Altieri] to gain experience in their field of study, build their resume, be exposed to professional training, and, most importantly, network with professionals and develop important contacts,” Jannetty shared.
Held each year, the Waterbury Police Explorer’s Academy brings local youth, ranging in age from 11-20, to campus to participate in activities and seminars on everything ranging from physical training and report writing to vehicle stops and firearms safety training. Led by Post University faculty members and officers from local police departments, including Waterbury, East Hartford, Cheshire, Southington, and Thomaston, participants gain a real-world understanding of the role law enforcement professionals play in serving our communities.
“Each day we have certain things planned for the Police Explorers,” Altieri said. “Things like Stop the Bleed and gang awareness trainings, which are good for them to know in case they are in those situations.”
While both Altieri and the program participants are gaining valuable practical skills and learning what it takes to be a professional working in public safety, it is the transferrable skills, which are important to all aspects of life, that are equally important to build.
“Communication skills are the most important,” Jannetty said. “If you are not a good communicator, you will not succeed in law enforcement today. Also, critical thinking and the ability to think on your feet are almost as important. I stress to the explorers that making a split-second decision, based on the limited information you have, is better than making no decision at all. This is a potentially life-saving skill.”
For Altieri, he is not only helping to educate and inspire future generations of law enforcement and emergency management professionals but is also making connections with those currently in the field, benefiting both his educational journey and future career.
“I do plan on completing an internship, and talking to a few of the officers, they were telling me which department would be best for me to go to and they know about the application process,” Altieri said. “I’ve been meeting a lot of officers from Waterbury and Cheshire, and I’ll have these connections from the Academy that will help me when I’m applying for internships and jobs.”