Oct. 16, 2006

Aspiring to be a trooper

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Dassel Cokato graduate Paul Nowak attended the Minnesota State Patrol High School Cadet Academy in August in preparation for his career in law enforcement.

Nowak is currently attending Alexandria Technical College for law enforcement to become a state trooper. Before heading off to college, Nowak had spent a week at Camp Ripley learning the preliminaries to working with the Minnesota State Patrol.

“I thought it would be a good experience before heading into college and into a career of law enforcement,” he said.

The state-funded camp covered several areas of law enforcement in its week-long training, including fire arms training, traffic laws, and youth and alcohol enforcement.

The cadet academy was a military-style camp with a classroom setting. Nowak and the 14 other attendees learned proper commands such as “sir” and “ma’am,” daily flag raising procedures, and drill ceremony marches.

Included in the program were physical training sessions using the military obstacle course, for which students had to be up at 6:30 a.m.

“This was challenging, but fun,” he said, finishing in 4.4 minutes.

Each student had the opportunity to be the squad leader and to be in charge of the group of cadets. Nowak was squad leader on graduation, which made that day extra nerve-wracking for him, he said.

Their class motto was “discipline, detail and dedication,” he said.

The camp is based on the core values of the state patrol, including preservation of life and professionalism, according to Nowak.

“I learned a lot about the state patrol,” he said. “It confirmed that this is what I want to do.”

Ever since he was a little kid, Nowak had wanted to someday be in law enforcement. He still has the collection of cop cars from when he was a child, said his mother, Kathy.

Nowak wants “to help and serve people,” which was his main motivation for choosing a career in law enforcement, he said.

He also credits spending his high school career in FFA for his communication and leadership skills.

Through FFA, Nowak learned necessary people skills and, “It taught me how to go out of my comfort zone,” he said.

Nowak had first heard about the camp after his mother saw a segment about the camp on KARE 11 News.

He applied for the camp and included letters of recommendation and two written essays.

The first essay was, “What qualities do you possess that would make you a good peace officer?,” and the second, “Why should you be allowed in the cadet program?”

KARE 11 EXTRA came back to the camp for a follow-up segment in which Nowak was featured, “Taste of life as a trooper,” by Joe Fryer, which aired Sept. 29.

The segment reported that the camp hadn’t been open for five years due to cuts in state funding for the camp, but was reopened just a year ago.

Last weekend, Nowak went on his first ride-along with Trooper Jeff Sharp on Interstate 94 near Monticello.

“I loved it. I plan on doing it again,” he said.

This summer, he hopes to intern with the state patrol to get more experience for his upcoming career.

The Minnesota State Patrol High School Cadet Academy is available free-of-charge for anyone interested in law enforcement. To sign up or for more information for the week-long cadet program, contact Kathy Walker with the State Patrol Training Center at (651) 628-6971.

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