Sheriff’s office hires cadet
CENTREVILLE — Kyle Brittingham, 19, is on his way to what he hopes will become a lifelong career. The 2018 Kent Island High School graduate is the first cadet at the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office. He graduated in May and started the job mid July.
“He’s doing good,” said Major Dwayne Boardman.
As a cadet, Brittingham’s duties include handling all walk-in fingerprinting; helping process prisoners; the administrative side of evidence control, such as purging items no longer needed; helping the quartermaster; working community events; and promoting recruitment, Boardman said. Once cleared
by the county to drive, Brittingham also will help with fleet control, he added.
The cadet can perform a lot of the administrative duties in the office that a sworn officer would otherwise have to do, thereby freeing that deputy to be out on the road, said Sheriff Gary Hofmann.
“The whole premise is we’re readying him to enter the police academy and succeed,” Boardman said. Recruits have to be 21 to be accepted into the police academy. In the meantime, ithe cadet position is a fulltime job; he’s learning about the job; and the time counts toward his retirement.
“It prepares them (the cadets) for the police academy and it prepares them for the challenges of the job,” Hofmann said.
Brittingham said he has wanted to be a law enforcement office since he was 6, following in the footsteps of his father, a sergeant with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, and that desire grew as he got older.
“With all the crimes in the area, I just wanted to help. I am a people person,” Brittingham said.
He said he read about the sheriff’s
office starting the cadet program in the Bay Times and thought it would be a good place to start. He applied to both the sheriff’s cadet program and the Maryland State Police cadet program, so then he had to decide which one to pursue.
Brittingham said he called both agencies and asked about the differences in the programs. He found out the sheriff’s office handles about 80 percent of the calls in the county, and he would be able to work in the same area he is from, plus it would afford him the opportunity to eventually follow in his father’s footsteps in the SWAT unit and the Drug Task Force.
“I got to see what I was going to be taught,” he said. “I do love it.”
So far, what he has enjoyed most has probably been the ridealongs and working at the fair, Brittingham said. “Everything is interesting. I’m here to learn.”
Brittingham isn’t afraid of hard work and said he learned his work ethic working after school at Kent Island Marine, where he took apart engines, helped replace parts and winterized boats. He recently finished putting together the engine for his 22-foot, centerconsole boat; next he’ll work on the floor, he said.
Other interests include skateboarding and guitar, which he has been playing since he was 4 and has frequently performed for church events and for funerals.
Brittingham is the son of Hank and Barb Brittingham, who adopted him at age 2 1/2 from Russia. He didn’t speak English and his parents didn’t speak Russian, although they do still have the pocket-size Russian to English dictionary they were given at the time, he said.
He studied Spanish in high
school and speaks it fluently, something he attributes to his background of having to learn English at a young age. “I know how to learn another language,” he said. Hearing it, applying it and using it just seem to come naturally, and he has a knack for understanding accents — all things that will be helpful as he pursues a career in law enforcement, he said.
Boardman said the cadet program not only provides a good job and helps keep the future deputy on the straight and narrow, it also makes sure he is physically fit and is pursuing higher education.
He has to do a physical fitness test every month that consists of a 1 ½ mile run, push ups, sit ups and stretch and reach, Brittingham said. Once a quarter he has to do the test with Boardman.
Cadets also are required to be registered in college level classes. Brittingham is enrolled in Introduction to Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement at Chesapeake College for the fall semester.
While Brittingham is the first cadet at the sheriff’s office, they are looking for a second, Boardman said. Two cadet positions have been funded. Their hope is that by the time a second cadet is hired, Brittingham will have enough training and experience he can teach the new recruit. Then that
recruit will train Brittingham’s replacement when he enters the police academy.
“Recruitment is becoming more and more difficult throughout the country,” Boardman said. “We hope to have this continuing stream of qualified academy recruits.”
Hofmann echoed that thought, “The one thing that all police departments are facing now is finding qualified applicants.” His vision for the cadet program is to recruit applicants from the community at a young age.
“Hopefully those young persons, those cadets, will look at that job a a career, not just a stepping stone,” he said.
We’ll get them early, teach them to protect and serve the needs of the community, to be respcetful and be responsive, he said.
Every juridiction is different, he added. The duties the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office are different from the duties of a city police department.
“It’s an opportunity to work with them (the cadets) and groom them, for them to learn our goals and objectives,” Hofmann continued.
He said he hopes to see the cadet program expand.
“We feel this is a win for everybody,” Boardman said.
Cadet Kyle Brittingham, right, processes a fingerprint request under the supervision of Deputy Justin Custis.
Cadet Kyle Brittingham works at the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office booth during the Queen Anne’s County Fair.