HUBBARD - A number of cadets will soon be certified in the safe and proper use of rifles.
Thanks to a grant valued at nearly $250,000, the first group of cadets from Youngstown State University's Basic Peace Officer Training Academy has started training with M-16 rifles.
Eleven rifles donated from the Howland and Austintown police departments are being repurposed for the cadets to prepare them for a career in law enforcement.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Bonnie L. Hazen
Armed cadets line up in front of their targets Tuesday as they prepare to qualify with their rifles in Youngstown State University’s peace officer training at the Hubbard shooting range.
Ed Villone, commander of YSU's training academy, sought out the grant that allowed the cadets to receive hands-on training with the weapons. It is his hope that he will be able to obtain an additional 19 so that there will be enough rifles to go around to all 30 cadets.
"The concept here is that recently the federal government has been partnering up with the state and local law enforcement with the repurposing of military equipment. What nobody has been doing in the state is training the cadets with rifles ... before they go to the police department," he said.
Villone said the cadets have an exceptional training opportunity since their head instructor, Bob Paterniti, also helped develop a rifle instruction program when he worked for the FBI.
Although some of the cadets are ex-military and had experience shooting rifles, others were doing so for the first time Tuesday at the Hubbard Gun Range while Paterniti and others gave them pointers.
Among the students were Slayman Awadallah, 21; Mike Conway, 23; and Bernice Cintron, 23. After a series of exercises, the students inspected their targets.
Out of eight shots, Awadallah found that six had hit in optimal areas, including one head shot.
Villone said the exercises serve to elevate YSU's police academy to offer the best training.
"Our cadets will be trained and can be placed in a cruiser with a rifle one day without any additional training. Our guys are ready to go," he said.
The academy has graduated more than 800 cadets since 2000.