PHOTOS: Massachusetts Association of Women in Law Enforcement Holds MAWLE & Me Summer Camp to Introduce Young Women to Law Enforcement Career Paths

BOSTON — The Executive Board of the Massachusetts Association of Women in Law Enforcement (MAWLE) is pleased to share the success of this year’s MAWLE & Me Summer Camp. 

MAWLE hosted the 2023 camp from Aug. 14-18 at the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association Hall for over 20 middle school-aged girls from the Boston area. This is the fourth time the camp has been held.

The weeklong camp was coordinated by MAWLE Secretary/Boston Police Sgt. Detective Amyleigh Devito and MAWLE member/Boston Police Bureau of Community Engagement Officer Lauren Woods. Boston Police Officers Cynthia Brewington and Sarah Palermo and Boston Police Detective Kathleen Senise assisted in managing the camp and activities. Several other women also assisted throughout the week, including sworn and civilian personnel from Boston Police, Fairhaven Police and Cambridge Police. 

Throughout the week, camp participants met law enforcement and criminal justice professionals from many different agencies, and learned about the field through demonstrations, discussions, field trips and group activities.

On Monday, the campers participated in a group fitness class with Kelly Stevens and learned about setting financial goals, saving and credit from the City of Boston Credit Union. The campers also saw a demonstration from Boston Police Officer Anne Maher and her K-9 partner Dash. 

Boston Police Detective Lakenya Webster of the Civil Rights Unit worked on self-affirmations with campers, like “I am Enough,” and they created poster boards to describe themselves with goals and a personal fun fact. Also on Monday, Sue Durkin and Jill Colella of FBI Boston discussed how to join the FBI, as well as what types of crimes the FBI investigates.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Massachusetts Plus America Jillian Mattei — who created “Star Spangled Service” to support and honor military and law enforcement personnel and their families — visited the camp to talk about overcoming obstacles and self-confidence.

Campers then toured BPD District C11 with Capt. Shawn Burns and several sworn and civilian members. During their tour, campers saw the booking area and cell block, detective and community service offices, and spoke with some of the community service civilian staff and mental health clinicians. 

The campers also visited the Massachusetts State Police Marine Unit and learned from troopers about the Dive Team’s equipment, the Unit’s fleet and the lock system connecting Boston Harbor and the Charles River.

Later Tuesday the campers visited Castle Island. Lt. Susan Murphy Survillo with “Sgt. Mike” and Ranger Kristen Mincey with “Cowboy Joe” of the Department of Conservation & Recreation Mounted Unit, and Troopers Aimee Bodge with “Captain” and Christine Verdolino with “Scout” of the Massachusetts State Police Mounted Unit met the campers and provided demonstrations. 

Wednesday, campers toured Boston Police Headquarters. They were welcomed by Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox, Superintendent Luis Cruz, Deputy Superintendent Keith Webb, Deputy Superintendent Gerry Cahill, Deputy Superintendent James Miller and others. They also visited the Video Evidence Unit, Crime Lab, Crime Scene Response Unit, Operations/911, Boston Regional Intelligence Center, and Firearms Analysis Unit.

Later Wednesday the campers visited the Boston Municipal Court Central Division, Assistant Chief Court Officer Stephanie Cruz, Probation Chief John Turner and their respective staff. They toured the court and learned about court procedures during a discussion with Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo, Jr.

On Thursday, the campers took a field trip to Tree Top Adventures in Canton and completed a high ropes obstacle course.

Closing out the week on Friday, Boston Police Officer Michelle Cummins taught a boxing class. Boston Police Crime Scene Response Unit Officers Sarah Briggs and Michael Connolly staged a mock crime scene and taught the campers about evidence collection. The campers also learned about fingerprinting.

Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad Trooper John Ragosa with K-9 Scout, Trooper Scott Irish with K-9 Pippin, Spot the bomb robot dog, and Boston Police Bomb Squad Sgt. Christine Carr also visited the campers and did demonstrations on Friday. 

Fortunately, the weather cleared Friday afternoon, allowing for a visit from Lt. Kaitlyn Mercurio and Officer Natalie Mardoyan — both MAWLE members — and Detective Chris Bastarache of the Waltham Police Drone Unit, as well as the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Post and drones. The Sheriff’s Office also served lunch and snow cones for the campers, and the BPD Bureau of Community Engagement Ice Cream Truck served ice cream. The campers participated in Double Dutch jump roping with the Boston chapter of the 40+ Double Dutch club, and recruit officers from BPD Academy class 63-23, graduating in October, also visited Friday. 

To close out the camp, campers heard from women law enforcement leaders from around the region, including Cambridge Police Superintendent Pauline Wells, Boston Police Superintendent Lanita Cullinane, Boston Police Superintendent Nora Baston, Boston Police Deputy Superintendent Therese Kozmiski, Boston Police Deputy Superintendent Nicole Grant, and Babson College Police Chief/MAWLE Vice President Erin Carcia. They offered words of wisdom for the campers and answered questions.

“We are deeply appreciative to the various individuals, departments, agencies and units who gave their time to visit or host our campers,” said Sgt. Detective Devito. “We look forward to holding the camp each year and our sponsors, volunteers and partners help us make it a fun and informative week for young women to learn more about law enforcement and criminal justice career paths.”

Following the camp, MAWLE received the following message from the parent of a camper, who wishes to remain anonymous: “My daughter loved this week and spoke a lot about you. [. . .] She has had a very tough few years with extreme bullying. She needed to be a part of something empowering. [. . .] We had no idea how meeting with you all would impact her.”

MAWLE would like to thank the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association for allowing use of their space for the camp, as well as the camp’s sponsors, John Guilfoil Public Relations and the State Police Association of Massachusetts.