Josh Wilson, the new police liaison officer for the School District of New London, is no stranger when it comes to working with young people.
The 37-year-old Wilson, who was hired by the New London Police Department in November 2001, coordinated the department’s Police Explorers Program for many years.
“Explorers is a program designed for youth to explore about a career,” Wilson said. “When I was eighteen years old I joined the National Guard Explorers Program, and my experiences were awesome. At the NLPD, I brought to the table my previous experiences and our Explorer Program, which is now youth run, is now one of the best in the area.”
Wilson added that this year alone, New London’s Police Explorers have been trained on handcuffing, defense and arrest tactics, traffic stops, radio communication, first aid, active shooter situations, bomb threat response, and simulated calls for service.
“These kids are doing things at 14 years old I didn’t do until I was 24,” Wilson said.
As Police Liaison Officer, Wilson acts as the key intermediary between the School District of New London and the New London Police Department. And it is an important role.
“Young adults are so influential, and I can only hope that I can be a positive influence for them,” he said.
Brian Mathu and Kris Dalen-Bard, teachers in NLHS’s Freshmen Academy, invited Wilson to visit their ninth grade American & Global Studies classes during their recent unit on the U.S. Bill of Rights. Wilson educated students on statutes, police intervention options, levels of proof, and Miranda rights. He also demonstrated how and why officers perform a pat down as well as a vehicle search.
“It was a great way for me to introduce myself to the freshmen students and give them a little insight on who I am and what I am about,” Wilson said. “This was a great opportunity for me and my department to open the door of communication with students.”
“Officer Wilson is a tremendous resource,” said Mathu. “He really relates to our students. I have heard many positive comments about him and his work from students and fellow staff members alike.”
In addition to Wilson’s visits, American & Global Studies students researched a number of Supreme Court cases related to the Bill of Rights. Some deal with police powers and citizens’ rights: Mapp v. Ohio, Miranda v. Arizona, Terry v. Ohio, and Wyoming v. Houghton to name four.
Others deal with school powers and students’ rights: Tinker v. Des Moines, Goss v. Lopez, Ingraham v. Wright, and New Jersey v. T.L.O. among many.
Students used their Chromebooks to research a specific case, determine the Supreme Court’s decision and rationale, and present their findings to fellow students through a shared Google Presentation.
“The study of civics is far more than a course in school,” Mathu said. “Civics is the real-life every day interaction between us, our Constitution, and our government. And this project, together with Officer Wilson’s visit, brought this interaction to life.”