Mercyhurst police academy to graduate 100th class of cadets

Bill Hale
The Mercyhurst University Municipal Police Training Academy will honor its 100th graduating class during 2 p.m. ceremonies Friday, Dec. 14, at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC).

The class of 33 cadets will join the nearly 3,000 alumni who have graduated from the academy, located at the university’s North East campus, since it began in 1977.

“This is an exciting moment for us,” said Bill Hale, police academy director. “I have to give credit to all the people and outstanding instructors who have helped build the program to the level it is today. This graduation ceremony will be a great opportunity to showcase our growth and success.”

The graduation is usually held at the North East campus, but will be moved to the larger PAC venue to accommodate special guests for the historic occasion, including Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. Noonan, a career investigator with more than 30 years of experience, has investigated bank robberies, kidnappings and some of the largest drug cases in northeast Pennsylvania.

Thomas Gamble, Ph.D., Mercyhurst University president, will address the academy’s 100th class. A celebratory reception, catered by students in the Mercyhurst North East culinary program, will follow the ceremony.

Mercyhurst cadets undergo nearly 780 hours of training in 21 weeks to prepare them for entry-level positions as police officers, deputy sheriffs, municipal authority officers, park rangers and security guards. Cadets can also obtain 16 college credits, which may apply toward a two-year degree program in criminal justice at Mercyhurst North East.

The police training academy is one of only 16 certified academies in the state where individuals can earn Act 120 certification, a requirement for many law enforcement jobs, including municipal police work. During the 21-week training, cadets learn patrol and arrest procedures, Pennsylvania laws, defense tactics, criminal investigation and courtroom procedures, crisis management and report writing. Cadets also receive instruction in firearms, first aid and CPR, as well as fitness training to prepare them for the physical demands of police work.

The Mercyhurst curriculum is so thorough that it goes more than 20 hours beyond the required 754 hours of training Pennsylvania mandates for future police officers, Hale said.

“Not only are our cadets being taught the curriculum and the academics they need, but they’re also getting important physical training,” Hale said. “It’s not required, but we do it to ensure these individuals are well prepared to enter the field.”

The police academy is one of the major components of the Public Safety Institute at Mercyhurst. The PSI also facilitates other programs and services including a corrections academy through the Erie County Prison, a new associate degree in intelligence and security support and personal protection classes for the public.
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