240 new Mass. State Police recruits graduate at empty Gillette Stadium

BOSTON — At Gillette Stadium, 240 new Mass. State Police recruits graduated from the State Police Academy to a stadium of empty seats.

No MSP graduation has ever been held at Gillette Stadium before this; the location was chosen because the football field allows adequate space for the trainees to stand in formation with adequate distancing. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered Gillette to the Mass State Police for the ceremony.

Governor Charlie Baker said it was difficult finding a place to allow for safe social distancing.

“These men and women have undergone the most remarkable training period in law enforcement history,” Gov. Baker said.

Tight restrictions were placed on the ceremony. The graduating recruits filled the football field but maintained a six-foot distance from each other.

Every graduate wore a mask, no family or friends were allowed to attend and the media was kept outside Gillette.

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Gov. Baker acknowledged he had mixed feelings about holding the graduation ceremony at a time when the COVID-19 crisis is forcing social distancing and strict rules against social gatherings.

In the end, Gov. Baker said the size of the Academy, the largest in 25 years, and the need for more state troopers on the road persuaded him to go forward with the event.

“If we tried to do this in small gatherings, over the course of many days, we would lose time that would otherwise be available to us to get them to work. We need them out there. And I say that realizing, for a lot of other people, the gathering rule is an enormous impediment to the rituals of daily life. I get that,” Gov. Baker said.

The trainees, who entered the State Police Academy in January, graduated several weeks early. That decision was made by the Command Staff in order to limit the possibility of virus transmission and to increase the MSP’s sworn ranks as it continues to assist with the state’s response to the pandemic and fulfill its regular full-service policing mission.

The new troopers will complete additional specialized topic coursework on a rotating basis post-graduation.

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