By Mariah Kiefer
Although one of the most essential jobs in our society, it is exceedingly difficult to find and train police recruits. Being a police officer is not a popular job and departments and officers often find themselves at odds with the local community. In an effort to improve this dynamic, the department is working closely with The Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania (MILPA). MILPA is an organization that helps to build trust and connection between law enforcement and migrant Hispanic communities. Speaking of the history between the Chambersburg Police Department and the local Hispanic community Chief Camacho said, “The core of the department was good; I took what I got and improved it.”
For Konnor Eshbaugh, being a police officer is something he has wanted to since he was 10 years old. At the age of 15, he took his first steps toward this goal by attending a State Police Youth week camp. After high school he went into the military. He finished his Protective Services Training, then spent a year in Afghanistan as a bodyguard, followed by time in the military police.
Then, he came home and made his dream a reality.
On Friday March 5th, three new recruits were sworn in as Chambersburg Police Department officers: Eric Mavila, 23, of Mount Pocono, Pa. Ernesto Lupian, 24, of Abbottstown, Pa. and Konnor Eshbaugh, 25, of Chambersburg, Pa. Once sworn in, Mavila and Lupian became the first full-time Hispanic patrolmen in the department’s history.
This year there were 316 applications. Of them, 129 applicants took the written test, and only 112 passed the test. Out of the 85 participants for the physical test, more than half of them failed. This left only 48 possible recruits. They were then are ranked on these test scores. If any recruits speak Spanish, they are required to take additional tests for department.
Chambersburg has a highly dense Hispanic community and the goal with these three new hires is to connect, engage and build trust with the people and lessen their fear of the police.
Many children and adults have a fear of police officers and do not see them as public servants who are there to protect and serve. The Chambersburg Police Department is trying to make efforts to reach out to the community and dispel these misconceptions.
CPD and MILPA held a joint event to reach out the community by handing out coffee, donuts, and Frisbees to the kids. This was an effort to engage the population, start meaningful conversations and build trust with the people.
CPD Chief Camacho recalled a little girl coming up to their table and expressing her fear of police officers due to videos seen online. But b y the end of the event, she was smiling with and taking photos with them eating donuts. This kind of community engagement is exactly what the Chambersburg police are trying to do.
Problems that have happened in the nation have not yet happened in Chambersburg and Chief Camacho said he “believed that it is due to how we manage ourselves.”
Eshbaugh plans to strengthen the relationships between the community and the department through positive interactions with the CPD. He looks forward to interacting face to face with the community every day and seeing how the actions they take will affect them. “State troopers run into different people every day. The CPD deal with the same community every day. We form relationships with them,” Officer Eshbaugh mentioned.
He feels enormously proud to be part of this department and serving beside Officer Lupian and Mavila, both who are “extremely smart, and great guys to work with,” Eshbaugh said. He talked about going through the academy with Lupian and how everyone loved him. Both are very personable, according to Eshbaugh and Chief Camacho.
The swearing in ceremony was the beginning of not just a career, but a calling for these three men to serve and protect their friends, family and neighbors of all backgrounds.