Pennsylvania State Police Cadet Driver Training
cadet driver training class

“In Pottsville, the probationer is given daily schooling in the criminal, forestry, and game laws of the state, with daily mounted and dismounted drill, is taught the care of horses, and of arms and equipment, and is instructed in general in the duties of the police.” ca. 1910: Katherine Mayo, Justice to All, first published in 1917.

A History of Excellence in Training

Initially, newly enlisted Pennsylvania State Policemen, “probationers”, would turn to the commanding officer and senior men of the Troop for training in the skills they needed for police work. A more standardized and efficient method was needed and in 1910 Superintendent Groome designated Troop “C” Pottsville as a training center for all student recruits.

In May of 1921, Act 386 allowed for the first official State Police Training School to be established in Newville. Three years later it moved to better facilities in Hershey. From 1924 to 1959 the Hershey Training School molded student recruits into the finest Troopers in the nation. However, as the complement grew steadily, it became apparent that the needs of the Department were outgrowing the facilities on Cocoa Avenue.

In an effort to keep the Training School in the area, the Hershey Estates Board of Directors sold 28 acres of land situated atop “The Hill”, which allowed the Department to build a state-of-the-art facility. Act 112 of 1959 pronounced that the new training school be known as the State Police Academy, rather than the State Police Training School and in 1960 Amendment No. 45 changed the enlistee’s title from Student Recruit to Cadet.

Still the Best and Brightest

Due to this legacy of intense and thorough training, the Pennsylvania State Police Academy is still considered the West Point of all police training schools in the country, and continues to produce the most well-trained Troopers in the world.

Currently, the training offered at the Academy is designed to prepare the cadets for field assignments. There is an emphasis on such subjects as Criminal Law and Procedure, the Vehicle Code, Accident Investigation, Firearms Training, and Self-Defense. One of the unique phases of the student’s training revolves around equitation skills. By mastering a horse, the students also learn to master themselves.

Despite the excellent instruction the new recruits receive at the Academy, their abilities must be developed and seasoned with actual experience in the field. Field Training Officers help a new Trooper couple Academy experience with initiative and action to continue training and apply the
skills they have learned.

Specialized Services in Training

In addition to Cadet training, the Academy and former training schools have also performed specialized police services as needed. Today, the Academy coordinates community service programs, oversees the Ceremonial Unit and Tactical Mounted Unit, and offers in-service training programs for State Police personnel and training courses for municipal officers.

Other services no longer performed for various reasons included offering police service to the local community, underwater rescue, safety dog and rodeo exhibition programs, bloodhound tracking program, and participation at annual horse shows and pistol team competitions. A Civil Defense truck, elaborately equipped for the time (ca. 1960) was also located at the Academy. Its purpose was to respond to a disaster area with a crew of Academy staff, trained to handle the equipment in the truck.