One Municipal Drive, Derry, NH 03038 603.716.6808
In the early 1970’s, some grant monies provided training and experience to 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 Director of Exploring, Donald Lemire of 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 Chiefs of Police Association for funding. The New Hampshire Police Association came on board a few years later with matching funds. The Daniel Webster Council provided support with mailing out applications and processing all the paperwork that was required for such an 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 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: Liquor Enforcement, Fish & Game, corrections, probation and parole, federal agencies, sheriffs’ departments, military police, and the courts.
Each Commander has their own style and has established new traditions. Chief Vinnie Baiocchetti of the Belmont Police Department was Commander from 2004-2102. He has been a staff member since 1987 and at the end of the 2012 class retired from the Academy after 26 years of service. The Academy Executive Committee made up of appointed members from the NHPA and the NHCoPA appointed Lt. Pierre Pouliot of the Goffstown Police Department as the next Academy Commander. He will be the first former Cadet to serve as Academy Commander.
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. Arguably, two important factors that have helped create the Cadet Academy into what it is today. First, several current staff have been assigned for 10 or more years of faithful service to the program. The Academy currently has personnel on staff for more than 20 years. Secondly, several of the staff members have gone through the program 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 from the Rutland Vermont Police Department was the longest serving staff member in our Academy history, retiring from active duty but has returned to teach. Our Academy also has a live in nurse on staff as well, tending to all the medical needs of both staff and cadets. The 2016 Academy has 15 former Cadets on the Staff. One of them, Chief Jim Burroughs of the Newport Police Department attended two Academy sessions as a youth, eventually became Chief of the Department that sponsored him to the Cadet Academy and is now the Chairman of the Board governing the program.
Many changes have happened since that first Academy. The classes then were one hour long and there were six classes a day for the week long Academy. Other changes have been to the structure itself. There are now a hundred cadets that may attend the Academy during their first year and they are called Basics. 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. 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.
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’s College until 1988. In 1988 and then in 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 the returned to the New Hampshire Technical Institute Campus in Concord, New Hampshire.
The Academy has always been more than just physical training and academics. The discipline and attention to detail 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 Friday to the following Friday smack dab in the middle of the summer. Because the staff members believe so much in the program, many don’t see their families for the entire week and some take vacation time in order to attend.
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 or succeed in any challenges they see ahead. Many cadets come away from the program knowing and feeling that they can accomplish anything they put their mind to.