Boston (State House News Service) – Out in New Braintree, nearly 50 people are in the midst of the second week of training as part of the inaugural class of the Massachusetts State Police’s Cadet Program, established under 2020 policing reform law in hopes of encouraging young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in law enforcement.

The 47 cadets going through the four-week academic and physical training course at the State Police Academy have made a one-year minimum commitment and will afterward move into a series of eight-week rotations through barracks and specialty units, where they will work administrative shifts as civilian employees. Participants who successfully complete the program and pass the Civil Service’s State Trooper Exam will receive preference for appointment to the State Police Academy.

The policing reform law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed at the end of 2020 authorized the creation of the cadet program as an alternate route to the State Police Academy that his administration believes can broaden the pool of recruits. It was funded in 2021. The State Police said the program is “designed as a recruitment strategy to broaden the diversity of the applicant pool and provide hands-on training while offering a paid, benefitted, and full-time civilian position within the Department as a Cadet.”

Of the 47 inaugural cadets, 25 (53 percent) are people of color and 13 (27 percent) are women, the State Police said.

“Our administration proposed the launch of a cadet program at the Massachusetts State Police several years ago, and the training of this inaugural class represents a significant step forward in implementing the Commonwealth’s landmark police reform law,” Baker said. “This initiative will strengthen recruitment and help build a diverse and capable next generation of law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth. We are grateful to Colonel [Christopher] Mason and the leadership team at the Massachusetts State Police for their efforts on this and many other initiatives which will improve the Department and its ability to effectively serve the Commonwealth for years to come.”

The 47 cadets in the first class were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants after an entrance examination, submission of a detailed application with personal statements and letters of reference, participation in an interview with members of the MSP’s Selection Committee, the passage of a full background check conducted by the MSP’s Certification Unit, and medical and psychological screenings. The program is open to Massachusetts residents aged 19 to 25.

Mason addressed the cadets on their first day of training, Nov. 28, and said that the participants “bring diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences to our agency and will gain firsthand experience and a deeper understanding of the critical ways we protect and serve the citizens of Massachusetts.”

After they complete the month-long training course, the cadets will be issued uniforms (the State Police said they will “clearly denote them as Cadets”), identification cards, ballistic vests, and flashlights. The cadets will not have any statutory powers or authority reserved for sworn law enforcement officers.

They will rotate through barracks and specialty units of the State Police, spending eight weeks at each stop. The rotations will continue for up to two years, depending upon the timing of the next State Police Recruit Training Troop. Throughout their time as cadets, the participants will be expected to study the MSP’s rules and regulations, policies and procedures, and other materials. They must also spend one hour each day in physical training.

The cadet program falls under MSP’s Division of Administrative Services and is led by Det. Lt. Sharon Maher.