History of the New Hampshire Police Cadet Training Academy
In the early 1970's, some grant monies provided training and experience for two or three cadets in the State of NH that wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. Chief Robert J. Wike of the Goffstown Police Department and Donald Lemire, Director of Exploring for the Daniel Webster Council decided that more cadets needed to gain access to higher levels of training and opportunities.
Chief Wike and Don Lemire put together a weeklong program of academics and physical training for any teenager who wanted an academy experience. They approached the NH Association of Chiefs of Police. The New Hampshire Police Association came on board a few years later with matching funds. The Daniel Webster Council provided support by mailing out applications and processing all of the paperwork that was required for this undertaking. A federal grant for $7,000 awarded by the NH Crime Commission was the final hurdle jumped which allowed the formation of the Academy.
The first Commander of the Academy was Goffstown Officer Richard Sexton. At the time of his assignment, Officer Sexton was only 22 years old and not much older than the attendees. His vision was to allow the cadets to see police officers as being sensitive and humane and to rid them of law enforcement stereotypes. Anita St. Onge and Nelson MacAskill, both employees of the Goffstown Police Department, were involved in the early creation of the lesson plans taught to the attendees. Some of the classes taught were K-9, firearms and self-defense. The instructors have always come from all aspects of law enforcement to include: Local, and State Departments, Liquor Enforcement, Fish & Game, Corrections, Probation & Parole, federal agencies, Sheriffs' Departments, military police, and the courts.
Through the years, various funding options were undertaken to support the Cadet Academy in order to keep tuition as low as possible to allow as many young adults as possible to attend the program. As these sources became scarce the staff members with help of the former sponsor’s Executive Director, Anne Dalton, held the first Gala to Support the Cadet Academy to raise funds in 2014. Many organizations and businesses in NH and beyond have provided monetary and item donations each year since. The Gala has grown each year and has become the primary source of income.
In 2018, our prior sponsoring agency voted to separate themselves from the Cadet Academy. At that time, the NH Troopers Foundation, Inc. generously stepped in and assumed sponsorship for the operation of the Cadet Academy.
Each Commander had their own style and has established new traditions. Goffstown Police Lieutenant Pierre Pouliot was appointed Commander of the Cadet Academy in 2013. He became the first former cadet to earn the Commander's appointment. Lt Pouliot retired from the staff in 2018 at which time NHSP Sergeant Justin Rowe, himself also a former cadet, assumed the Commander's duties.
The Academy is governed by a Board of Directors made up of three members of our sponsoring association, the New Hampshire Trooper's Foundation, Inc., three members of the Cadet Academy Staff and one representative from our facility host, NH Technical Institute.
The Staff of the Academy have always been the backbone of the NHPCTA. As soon as one class graduates, the Staff begins planning the next year’s Academy. Some staff members have been on board for a very long time, which allows for consistency from year to year.
There are two important factors that have helped the Cadet Academy become what it is today. The first of those two factors are that several current staff members have been assigned for 10 or more years of faithful service to the program. Lt. (Ret) Pouliot has been on staff for more than 20 years. The second important factor is that several of the staff members went through the program themselves when they were teenagers themselves. We have staff members from all aspects of law enforcement including city, municipal, county and state law enforcement. We have members from the Sheriffs' Offices, Local Police, State Police, Liquor Enforcement, Fish and Game, and even a member from the United States Military Police Corps. Our MP was also the first staff member to have completed all three levels of the Academy and return as staff. For 28 years, the Academy had an exchange officer from the Vermont Police Association. Sergeant Linda Elrick of the Rutland Vermont Police Department was one of the longest serving staff members in our Academy history, retiring from active duty but had returned to teach. Our Academy also has a live-in nurse on staff and an EMT, to tend to the medical needs of both staff and cadets.
Many changes have happened since that first Academy. The classes then were one hour long about basic police topics of the day and there were six classes a day for the week-long Academy. Today classes are on important topics relating to not just police work in the 21st century, but also on skills for success and achievement. There have also been changes to the structure itself. Currently we can accommodate one hundred cadets in the first year Basic Class. Because there was so much interest to return a second year, the Academy started an Advanced Class in 1981. This provided for more in-depth training and allowed for a smaller class of thirty-six cadets. Starting in 1998, a cadet could return for a third year as the Academy established the Leadership Class and limited the class size to twenty cadets. This was designed for the truly serious, career-oriented cadet. Many of the Leadership Cadets go onto careers in law enforcement, military or other public safety roles.
The Academy first started at Hidden Valley Boy Scout Camp in Gilmanton Iron Works where cadets slept in tents. The Academy then moved to Saint Anselm College until 1988. In 1988 and again 1998 the Academy was held at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. Between 1988 and 1998, we spent time at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro and Daniel Webster College in Nashua before relocating to Hesser College in Manchester from 1999 thru 2011. In 2012 we returned to the New Hampshire Technical Institute Campus in Concord, New Hampshire where we remain today.
The Academy has always been more than just physical training and academics. The discipline and attention to detail instilled throughout the program allows for character development. The transition starts to take place when a cadet first arrives and meets the staff. They are split into small squads and are assigned a staff advisor. That contact with the staff member will forge into a strong bond within one week. The staff must have qualities of leadership and must be able to communicate well. The staff spends the entire week at the Academy from the first Friday before the program begins through to the following Friday when the program culminates with a graduation ceremony. Because the staff members believe so much in the program, many don’t see their families for the entire week.
The 25 staff members are highly motivated and dedicated law enforcement officers who want to enable the cadets to become the future of law enforcement to succeed in any challenges they face ahead. Many cadets come away from the program knowing and feeling that they can accomplish anything they put their mind to.