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LEFT: Rose Warren (left) and William Powers of NEMLEC address members of Random Acts, MCC's
improv troupe. RIGHT: Student Kerry Sheehan (right) stays in character during a mock interview
with a detective-in-training.
Chief James Murphy, who hosts the train-
ing at his department, said the role-playing
by the students is one of the best-reviewed
portions of the two-week program because
it adds a level of realism for the participants
and requires them to intensely prepare for a
one-on-one showdown.
"The students have been great because they
roll with the situation, and create their own
back stories for each scenario, so the officers
have to be on top of their game to be able
to address any surprise answers the students
might spring on them during the course
of an interview," Murphy said. "And just
like in police work, not all the interviews
go smoothly, so it's up to the officer to
gain control and learn how to run the
interrogation, not let the suspect dictate
the direction."
Oster said her students clamor for the
opportunity to take on one of the "roles."
"It's the best acting exercise they can get.
When we do a show, they walk on stage,
then they're off stage, and they always feel
like they could have done more with their
character if they had more time," Oster said.
"Here, they immerse themselves in a role for
hours at a time, and it tests their ability to
find different layers to a character and create
a three-dimensional character working off
very little information."
The students are assigned roles as either
victims or suspects in a series of criminal
cases robbery, burglary, car theft,
stalking and rape. Once they're assigned
a role, it's their job to come up with a
back story for their character, using certain
evidentiary points that the officers will need
to conduct an investigation, but the story
and how the facts of their character plays
out is really up to each of the students.
"There is absolutely no question that is you
were to poll the police detectives who have
attended the investigation course over the
seven years we have offered it, every one of
them would say the student interactions were
the most intense, significant and eye-opening
parts of the training, which is a testament to
the talent both the students and the MCC
Theater program," said Powers.
Oster sees the rewards going both way,
between the NEMLEC police departments
and MCC.
"It's really a magical thing for the
students," she said. "Our students see this
as an acting exercise, they feel empowered
in these roles, and it helps break down the
mystique that sometimes surrounds law
enforcement, because the students get to
understand how a detective has to do his or
her job. These interactions have helped our
students respect and appreciate these officers,
and see the human side of the difficult jobs
they have to do. It's also very rewarding for
our students to realize that the roles they
play, the lessons they help teach the
detectives, can someday be used in a
real-world situation to help these officers
catch a suspect somewhere down the line.
That's not the kind of life lesson and
education that you can teach in a classroom."
Patrick Cook
Tom McKay, MCCF Board Member
1994 - 2014
Please donate online at
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MCC Foundation, PO Box 716, Bedford, MA 01730.
Please make checks payable to MCC Foundation
and reference Tom McKay Scholarship on the memo line.
M i d d l e s e x C o m m u n i t y C o l l e g e F o u n d a t i o n
Tom McKay
The Tom McKay Memorial
Scholarship at Middlesex
Community College
supports students who
demonstrate strong
civic commitment.
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