VASSALBORO – The newest graduates of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy decided to celebrate their achievement by spreading Christmas cheer.

The group of 60 new officers spent their only weeknight of freedom in more than four months buying nearly 100 toys for underprivileged children. The toys, which the officers bought with their own money, will be donated to the Fairfield Police Department’s Cops Care for Kids program.

“Mostly, it’s Barbies and Legos and Play-Doh,” said one graduate, Jason Warlick of the Damariscotta police. “There are lots of police cars. I don’t know where that came from.”

The group of new officers has completed the 18-week Basic Law Enforcement program at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The men and women will work as full-time police officers in state and municipal police departments across Maine.

Warlick, 33, said the class decided to go on the shopping spree after failing to come up with a better plan to celebrate Class Night, which is set aside for every class to celebrate its achievement.

Most classes decide to celebrate with a party.

“We get to pick what we do,” Warlick said. “Everybody agreed the best thing to do would be to take care of people who are more needy than us.”

The graduates bought the toys – 75 to 90 of them, ranging in price from $15 to $50 each — without knowing where they would go. Warlick spent much of Wednesday talking to police, firefighters and town managers for ideas on where to donate the toys. By the end of the day, the group agreed to give the goods to Cops Care for Kids.

The graduates delivered the toys before graduation.

Warlick said about half of the 60 cadets have children, so buying toys was close to their hearts.

“You live here for 18 weeks and only go home on the weekends,” he said. “It’s a lot of sacrifice.”

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

ccrosby@centralmaine.com