Ceremony held for 12 completing police academy course
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

East Texas Police Academy Director Brian Ruthven and lead instructor Andy Chester elicit laughter from the 12 cadets graduating Thursday night from East Texas Police Academy's basic peace officer certification class during a commencement ceremony at Sulphur Springs Library. Michelle D. Jones was named valedictorian and Randy R. Parrish salutatorian, while Matt Essary received the top gun award for top marksmanship. 

Staff Photo by Faith Huffman

Oct. 13, 2006 - A dozen men and women were honored Thursday night with a ceremony recognizing their achievement in completing the 640-hour basic peace officer certification course.

Michelle D. Jones, commissioned by Sulphur Springs Police Department, overcame an unspecified personal tragedy during the class to attain top honors as East Texas Police Academy Class 5's valedictorian with a 99.63 grade point average. She received an award for the honor. Matt Essary received the top gun award, given to the student scoring highest during the 40 hour firearms training portion of the class.

Randy R. Parrish was recognized as the salutatorian for having the second highest grade average. Parrish is commissioned through Wood County Sheriff's Office.

Also receiving certificates for completing the class, which began March 3 and concluded Oct. 9, were Jenny Allen, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office; Stacy Osborne, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office; Brad Sweat, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office; class president Matt Byrd, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office; Glen Holt, Delta County Sheriff's Office; Jojuan Clemons; Rebekah Ross, Greenville Police Department; Tim Ballew, Paris Police Department; and Teri Kuiper.

"This has been one of the hottest and driest summers on record, and they suffered and persevered through it. We are proud of them," ETPA Director Brian Ruthven said during Thursday night's ceremony.

"Every class is different, but this is one of the most unusual," said Andy Chester, lead instructor for the Sulphur Springs ETPA class. "This class really stands out."

"You put in a grueling 6 months, 4 to 5 nights a week, sometimes weekends, including 32 hours raining one weekend at the driving field, and I think 40 hours firearms training another, for 640 hours altogether," said Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King, who spoke during the graduation ceremony. "It's such an accomplishment that you have gotten where you are. Stand tall."

King challenged the cadets to continue making fair and honest decisions, to show respect to each person they come in contact with as law enforcement officers, to treat each other with respect, to always strive to be be a positive role model for youth and adults alike, and to adhere to the law in all their duties.

She also reminded them the importance of following through in their work ,whether it be in a case, making sure all blanks are filled out on tickets, offense reports, arrest sheets or with paper work, "because you don't want to be one of those officers we have to call and ask you to write more on your reports so we'll have an idea what occurred." 

She  reminded the importance of those and making sure each ticket and stop "is a good one" because "you never you which one of you will end up on the witness stand ... . Prosecutors need your solid statement."

King encouraged each of the 10 graduates to "make us proud, and most of all make your self and your families proud" by building good character, having good discipline and setting a good example following the law.

Parrish, speaking on behalf of the class, noted they still have one hurdle left before they can become full-fledged peace officers — the state test over all curriculum covered during the class.

The class presented instructors Andy Chester and Jace Anglin with plaques of thanks for their help in preparing them for the state test, and presented certificates of thanks to director Brian Ruthven and master firearms instructor Les Ferguson.

On behalf of ETPA, Chester and Ruthven presented Sulphur Springs Director of Library Services Cheryl Lawson with a multi-media PowerPoint projector for use in the Sulphur Springs Public Library in thanks for allowing ETPA to conduct classes at the facility.

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