A new class of Manchester's volunteer police force is ready to take to the streets.
Graduates of the township's Police Auxiliary received their badges and high praise from Manchester police Wednesday after concluding their 60 hours of training — 24 hours more than is required by the state.
Sgt. James Komsa said that the training, which began in February and ended last week, was "very involved." Candidates met every Wednesday for 4 to 5 hours, sometimes staying until midnight to complete class.
The graduates did a "phenomenal" job, Komsa said. Final class scores ranged from 90.3 to 98.3.
"I couldn't ask for anything better. My standards are very high," the sergeant said.
The auxiliary program had been in disrepair when he took over as department leader over a year ago, said Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski.
"We didn't have much of a program left," Klimakowski said. "We've had officers come and go."
The chief tasked Komsa with rebuilding the unit — Klimakowski said that he wanted to put together "a first class program" for the town, and Komsa has succeeded thus far.
"He's really put together a dynamic program," Klimakowski said. "We're really proud of him for doing that."
Mayor Michael Fressola was ill and could not attend the ceremony to administer the oaths. Clerk Sabina Skibo swore in Mathew J. Chester, Michael C. Drybola, Bernadette K. Warren, Lee R. Olson, Michael E. Mancini and Dominick A. Fresco III.
John Miceli was promoted to auxiliary sergeant during the ceremony. Since joining the volunteer force in 2005, he has put in over 2,000 hours of service.
"To go through this and become a volunteer says a lot about their character," Klimakowski said. "I appreciate that."
Applicants had to apply and undergo a background check before being accepted into the auxiliary academy, the chief said.
Auxiliary officers are required to serve 10 hours each month. They help with traffic control, security and uniform patrols in public spaces; they do not serve in an enforcement capacity. The officers also will be activated during emergencies such as severe weather.
"Today, our officers are taxed. So having some extra eyes and ears out there to assist us is always welcomed," the chief said.
The department is planning to hold another academy in the fall and the chief said that he would like to double the number of auxiliary officers.
"I think that they'll find it's a really interesting and challenging position they'll be in. I think it's a great program," Klimakowski said. "I really looking forward to expanding it in the future."