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New Police Academy Director Appointed

Submitted by on February 24, 2021 – 3:33 pm

Joshua Stokel, new director of the NECC Police Academy

Joshua Stokel of Portsmouth, NH, a retired deputy chief of police with extensive experience teaching criminal justice at the college level, has been appointed director of the Northern Essex Community College Police Academy.

After beginning his career as a patrol officer in Rochester, NH in 1996, Stokel joined the North Hampton, NH Police Department in 1999, rising up through the ranks, from detective to sergeant to deputy chief of police, before his retirement last year.

During his career, he served as DARE instructor, forensic interviewer of abused children, hostage negotiator, drug recognition expert, and rape aggression defense instructor. From 2002 to 2004, Stokel was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Meth Lab Enforcement Team.

He currently is an adjunct professor at Merrimack College and Southern New Hampshire University, and, in the past, he has taught at Great Bay Community College.

“Joshua has real-world experience as well as a passion and talent for teaching,” said Michael McCarthy, Northern Essex vice president of administration. “He is going to be a great leader for our already successful academy.”

The Northern Essex Police Academy has graduated 11 classes since its inception in January of 2015. To date, close to 500 recruits have graduated from the academy, serving 58 municipal police departments, eight colleges and universities, Massachusetts Port Authority, and the Somerville Housing Authority. The next class will graduate in April and a new class will start in June.

All the graduates complete an intensive 24-week program that includes constitutional law, prevention and intervention, community policing, domestic violence, elder abuse, and victims’ rights. Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) training, which prepares officers to successfully intervene when they see other officers engaging in misconduct, was recently added to the curriculum. The recruits undergo 900 hours of training, defensive driving, daily physical fitness training, and firearms training. All training takes place on the Haverhill Campus except for firearms training and emergency driving techniques, which are held, at off-campus locations.

Northern Essex manages the academy with guidance from an advisory board that includes police chiefs from Amesbury, Haverhill, Methuen, Lawrence, and North Andover.

Stokel earned a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies from Plymouth State College and a master’s in social justice with a focus on public administration from Southern New Hampshire University.

Stokel says he has been a longtime supporter of building partnerships between higher education and law enforcement, which is what drew him to this position. “The data shows that, with education, officers are more articulate, more flexible, better critical thinkers, and less likely to use unnecessary force. Northern Essex has been a leader in law enforcement education and I’m eager to play a role.”

To learn more about the academy, contact Stokel at

In addition to the academy, Northern Essex offers an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice; an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice: Private and Public Safety for those currently working in the field; and a Certificate in Law Enforcement.

To learn more, visit the website, or contact

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, more than 5,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,600 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700.