Each police academy class is different, composed of cadets from various cities, ages and backgrounds.
In addition to being “characters,” the 13 members of the East Texas Police Academy-Sulphur Springs Class IX stand out from the eight previous Sulphur Springs classes. Not only did all the cadets take the state test before the basic peace officer certification classroom final, but they all passed it, too. In the past, the state test has fallen just after graduation. And it’s not unheard of for a cadet to have to take the state test more than once.
Andy Chester, the main instructor for the course, noted the cadets’ dedication and encouragement for the others in the class.
“Most of these people have full-time jobs they hold down. It takes a lot of dedication to do that and drive to the night class and keep up with it. Only three points separated the top from the bottom. I think that’s pretty good, don’t you?” Chester said during Friday night’s graduation ceremony.
Jenifer Gorton was honored as valedictorian for having the highest class average, and Corey McGregor was given the top gun award for marksmanship.
ETPA Director Brian Ruthven commended the cadets for their dedication that paid off in the form of the class completion, graduation and certification. He also noted the cooperation of the local police chiefs and sheriffs who sponsor the cadets and show support for the academy, as well as the dedicated instructors who help the program succeed.
Ruthven particularly noted Chester’s dedication to the class, working at his full-time day job in law enforcement, then four nights a week at the academy and on select weekends training and qualifying cadets in the field.
“It takes quite a bit of dedication, and he puts his heart and soul into it and does a good job,” Ruthven said.
Chester noted that the contributions of other class instructors and assistants such as Glynda Chester, Kelly Stonaker, Ron Lowrie, Cody Sanders, director Ruthven and master instructor Les Ferguson are also very integral to the Sulphur Springs class’ success.
Instructors and cadets issued special thanks to the cadets’ families and friends who supported them through the class, making sacrifices of time, plans and in some cases finances so that the cadets could focus on the class.
“I’d like to thank the wives, grandparents, sisters, brothers, parents and other family who stuck with us,” said Class IX President Glenn Hanner, who then thanked all of the instructors for sharing their passion for the law while teaching and training them, particularly Chester who “pushed us each and every day. He didn’t slack up because he knew each and every one of us had it in us.”
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup, keynote speaker, thanked the cadets for entering a field few choose to do. He told them to keep in mind a few things.
The cadets have joined a new family, a brotherhood, but they must not neglect their biological families no matter what their work family requires. “You still have a biological family — the one you’re born into, your spouse, children. You have another too, one with integrity and sometimes they’ll intermix. Be careful of the overflow, that your first family doesn’t become jealous. Your first loyalty should be to God and family, then job and duty,” Glossup said.
He also reminded the cadets that they have chosen law enforcement, which is a calling not a high paying career. He encouraged them to be true to their calling by being the best officers they can be at whatever duty they are assigned, and at all times. He also reminded them to always adhere to a strong ethical code, which reflects back on the department or agency they will represent.
Glossup warned law enforcement is not for the faint of heart. He told the cadets to prepare to see many harsh things the general public never knows, and must keep in perspective. The shield on their shirts, a throwback to days of knights, signifies an officer’s duty is to protect the public from those things, to make the streets a safer place.
“I hope you will strive to be the best police officers in the world. Whether on a traffic stop, warrant service, a death, patrol or other call, you are the first impression — you are what people see. You are a reflection of your department, your sheriff and chief, on us as judges, too. You have a calling, and I hope that you will ... be the best you can be,” Glossup said.
At the conclusion of Friday’s EPA Basic Peace Officer Certification-Sulphur Springs Class IX graduation at Fellowship Christian Church, Matthew Gann, Charles Glass, Jenifer Gorton, Glenn Hanner, Wayne Jenkins, Corey McGregor, Tasha Peugh, Perry Reed, Kelli Sims, Wade Sheets, Billy Weatherford, Bobby Williams and Justin Williams were each awarded certificates for completion of the course.
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