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Local resident gets first-hand view of police force

July 22, 2009
WHITEFIELD—For Randall Byers, a serious young man with practiced formality that shields a natural shyness, becoming a law enforcement officer is a long and arduous task and is still a long way from completion. It is an ambition that has occupied his attention for much of his four years at White Mountains Regional High School, where he graduated last month. He completed four years of JROTC, becoming a First Lieutenant and one of just six officers.

For the second year in row, the 18-year-old Byers, participated in and graduated from the New Hampshire Police Cadet Academy, a weeklong intensive hands-on study of law enforcement practices. Last summer, he was accepted into the Basic Class program, which is limited to 100 first-time applicants. He found the program so fulfilling that he competed to reached the next level, which is called the Advanced Class, which is limited to just 30 applicants. Byers hopes to be selected to participate in the Leadership Class, which is designated for third year applicants and is limited to only 20 people.

Byers, who lives with his parents, Ellen and Stephen Byers in Whitefield, plans to attend the New Hampshire Technological Institute majoring in criminal justice, and eventually he hopes to join the New Hampshire State Police. He credits the cadet academy program for giving him a sobering view of the challenges that accompany such a profession. Still, he is not deterred and sees the opportunity to serve as a high worthy endeavor with various areas for him to develop an expertise. At this point, he thinks a canine division would most satisfy his interests.

The program is run by the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police, New Hampshire Police Association and Exploring Division of the Daniel Webster Council. Started in 1973, it is open to young men and women from 14-20 years-old from all over New England. The training is led by the most prestigious law enforcement officers in their fields, including Trooper William Tibbits II from the Twin Mountain Troop F headquarters, and applicants must be nominated from their local police departments. It was held during the last week of June at Hesser College in Manchester.

Byers noted that the first year, general level program was more focused on establishing discipline or as he said to "get the detail down." This included properly making one's bed with a 90-degree angle on tucking sheets and blankets, correctly wearing attire and physical fitness. Also, the studies were more classroom-oriented.

The second year Advanced Program included more leadership opportunities and high-level role-playing that put cadets in real life simulated situations. Two of the simulation activities that most challenged Byers were the challenge of protecting the crime scene from an overly aggressive news reporter and using personal skills to gather information from witnesses. "It is important to relate to them," he said about witnesses. "To get down on their level and make them comfortable."

The advance program included study of crime scene preservation, the role of the medical examiners in law enforcement, and building searches and firearm training, which was conducted at Sigarms Academy in Exeter.

Byers credits Retired Lt. Col. Darrell Gearhardt, the leader of the White Mountains Regional High School JROTC program, with being an important role model for him. As a result, he considered joining the military after graduation, but with his father's influence he decided college was a better option.

Varney Smith
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