100th class graduates

Celebrations will soon take place for the 100th class graduation of the Mercyhurst University Municipal Police Training Academy for all of their time, effort, hard work and achievement.

The Academy will be celebrating its 100th class graduation in a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 14, at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Mercyhurst Main Campus.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan and Mercyhurst President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., will speak at the ceremony.

The ceremony is usually held at the North East campus, but was moved to the PAC to accommodate additional guests for the event.

The 33 cadets of the 100th class will join almost 3,000 alumni as the cadets are honored for their achievements.

The academy has been training cadets since 1977 with its 21-week program.

Academy Director Walter (Bill) Hale has overseen the academy since the previous director retired and will also be at the ceremony. Hale had five years of municipal police experience before taking over the position at the academy.

According to Hale, the graduation ceremony will be like other graduation ceremonies. Certificates will be handed out to the cadets in physical training, firearms and academic areas.

Gamble will present the President’s Award to the overall best cadet at the ceremony. A reception after the ceremony will be prepared by Mercyhurst Hospitality and Culinary students.

“Since 1977, Mercyhurst has operated one of only 16 regional police training academies in the Commonwealth and trained the majority of active police officers in our region,” Gamble said.

The program, which Hale says was started in Erie, was moved to North East in the 1990s.

Cadets in the program endure a grueling course load that is both academic and physical in nature. They learn all about the rules of criminal law, history of policing and ethics, as well as firearms training, hands-on tactical self-defense and motor vehicle operation among other challenging subjects.

“[Current training] is well over 700 hours and will soon be over 1,000 hours,” Hale said.

The 100th class of cadets started last July in various stages of physical fitness, wondering what the program was about and how it would proceed.

Over the following weeks, Hale and other trainers got the class into physical and academic shape as they taught them how to survive in many different situations throughout their training.

In regards to the work Hale has done with the cadets, Gamble said, “It is through their leadership, and that of their predecessors, that we honor you today knowing full well that we have done our best to prepare you for your future careers in law enforcement.”