AUBURN — When Central Maine Community College holds its graduation Thursday, nine students will have completed a third-year program of advanced policing.

They plan to be police officers, a tough job where officers largely deal with people on drugs or alcohol, mental illness, citizens complaining about neighbors, parents calling because their children are out of control, victims of robbery, motor vehicle crashes — generally not happy times.

The nine shared why — in a time of frequent images of shootings and violence in the national media — they want to be police officers.

Austin Couture, 22, Jay. “This job isn’t for everybody. It’s kind of in your heart, you kind of know this is what you want to do. . . . It’s something I’ve dreamed of, to be a police officer.”

Phillip Dougherty, 43, Bethel. “I always wanted to be an officer. As I grew up I never took advantage of those opportunities. As I got older I had an opportunity, so here I am fulfilling my dream.” Dougherty said he wants to use positive vibes to make things better. “It’s not the fame, the glory, the power, the control. It’s a job you have an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Kelsie Heath, 20, Bethel. “I’ve always wanted to help people. I want to be the person that kids look up to instead of being scared of. I’d like to help those affected by domestic violence or assaults. I’d rather do it in a police setting than a hospital.”

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Dylan Morin, 21, Lewiston. “Police officers have always been someone I’ve looked up to. They’re good people. They help people. They make a good impact on the community. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”

Evan Parquette, 21, Greene. “My grandfather was in the military. He went through Korea and Vietnam. He instilled in me (the value of helping others). . . . Not everybody can protect themselves. It’s our job to protect people.” He considered going into the military, “but I realized I’d rather protect my own home, my own state, than a third-world country.”

Kaitlyn Zeininger, 27, Lewiston. “I spent a little bit of time in the military. The camaraderie I had with people I served with is what pushed me toward this career. . . . And, I have two little boys. Being able to show them how to work for your community, to inspire people to be better people, that’s what motivated me. I’d like to not just protect people in the community, but to inspire them to be better.”

Alec Collins, 22, Lewiston. “Its always been, how do I want to see myself 20 years from now. What can I do to help people around me and in my community. In 20 years I’d like to be at the end of my police career and have a good stepping stone for the rest of my life.”

David Morin, 50, Auburn. “As I drive through town I see laws being broken, traffic laws, fireworks out windows.” Too much lack respect for others and the law, he said. “And I have a close relative who got caught up in the drug scene. It tore up his family. It affects the community. I don’t like that. I want to help people and I want to make my community a good community for myself and others.”

Sabrina Poulin, 23, Augusta. “I love the idea of being a police officer to help people. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a very exciting and challenging job. That’s the biggest part for me, to challenge myself. The sky’s the limit.”

Austin CouturePhillip DoughertyKelsie HeathDylan MorinEvan ParquetteKaitlyn ZeiningerAlec CollinsDavid MorinSabrina Poulin

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