Opinion: “Bradley T” inspired me to become a police officer
|Published: 11-21-2023 6:00 AM
Bill Yacopucci lives in Franklin and is founding director of the non-profit Franklin Makerspace.
Playing cops and robbers with their friends, every kid imagines being a police officer. It fades for most in adolescence; we start to question the authority of parents and other adults as we, and our hormones, try and figure out who we want to be. Cops were, after all, the ones to stop us teens from partying and having a good time.
At 14 in the 1980s, I was a relatively quiet, shy kid, probably not going to be a major party animal. I longed for more excitement in my life and liked the idea of helping others. Still, it seemed pretty far-fetched; who was I to think I could be a cop? It became more real when a new police chief came to my hometown of Franklin. He brought with him a Law Enforcement Explorer cadet program and I jumped at the opportunity.
Exploring allowed youth to join a department to learn the various aspects of policing. We went through light versions of police training and spent time in the dispatch center. The highlight, of course, was routine ride-alongs with patrol officers.
I loved the excitement of the calls, problem-solving, and assisting people in need. But was that enough? The 1980s pop culture image of a cop was an authoritarian tough guy imposing their will on the public. I certainly knew more than a few with that sort of persona. Was I prepared to close myself off and be aloof, if that was necessary to do the job?
Fortunately, one of the first officers I was partnered with was 22-year-old Patrolman Bradley T. Haas. Bradley T, as we called him, was a great, fun-loving guy. Brad showed you could retain your humanity as a police officer and just be yourself. It was a huge relief to me; I knew then I could do it and I knew I wanted to be like Bradley T.
I met many other great police officers and learned much from them, but Brad and I just clicked. When calls for service trailed off that was when Van Halen went up! We’d blast it in the cruiser, sing along, and make our own excitement.
Brad had a great sense of humor, but when calls came it was all business. I admired how he dealt with people with fairness, kindness, and compassion. His calm reasoning did much to de-escalate some tense situations.
You build strong bonds in a job like that. I loved working with Brad. The four years as a cadet went by in a flash. On my 18th birthday, I was sworn in as an officer. I continued to work as a cop while attending college and for a while after that. I eventually transitioned to a career in industrial security and safety. That took me away from the area and I lost touch with Brad.
Living in the Midwest at the time, I heard Brad made chief of Franklin before he retired and that made me very proud. I recognized how much he inspired the way I interacted with people throughout my career and life.
Moving back to Franklin in recent years I heard he was protecting the folks at New Hampshire Hospital, not the simplest place to just drop by and say hi. Maybe I’d run into him somewhere. I wish I had. It would have been great to see him in person and say thank you, Bradley T, for some of the best and most transformative times in my life!
What a tremendous loss, but Brad lives on in the countless people he helped and influenced.