Black River Technical College Law Enforcement Training Academy held their biannual graduation ceremony Friday, April 21, 2017. The auditorium was packed with the officers’ families and peers, all there to show their support. These men and women endured thirteen weeks of rigorous training, in preparation for this moment: graduation.
This graduation is much like all ceremonies, as it has guest speakers, awards, and the prized certificates to be awarded to the graduates. The service is jumped off by the Jonesboro Firefighters Pipes and Drums Corp playing the officers into the auditorium. Colors are presented by the Honor Guard, and the National Anthem is sung. This year was no exception, and was conducted with the highest reverence to the occasion.
The awards portion of the ceremony was exceptional this year in that there were several ties. For Top Shooter, there was a 3-way tie for 3rd place and a 5-way tie for second place. Craighead County’s Troy Hess was one of the five who won that distinction in the Top Shot category. The Academic Award was very close, as 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place were separated by a margin of less than 1%. Caleb Lawson, a US Veteran, was the top in the Academic Award. The Overall Award was no different, as there was a two-way tie. Jake Tyler Holloway of the Department of Parks and Tourism and Zachary Purrington, a US Veteran, were the top two in Overall Officers. Holloway also was the award winner for the Physical Fitness Award. This award saw a tie for second place. This is a great indication to this writer that the nearly 60 names on that list will be great assets to their respective departments.
Graduation guest speakers are invited to share pearls of wisdom and encouragement to those graduating. BRTC’s speaker was Walt Colman, NFL referee. One has to ask what a referee can say to a room full of law enforcement officers. Can you think of any other profession that garners less respect than a football referee? Mr. Colman spoke to the class of three things:
- What you do is important and everyone makes a difference.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously; learn to laugh (sometimes at yourself).
- Always do what’s right and you’ll never worry about what choices you made.
These three points translate into all professions, but they strike to the heart of most law enforcement officers. Not every job in law enforcement is going to make headlines. Mr. Colman’s analogy likened this to the linebacker position. Most linebackers aren’t getting on a box of Wheaties. Most people couldn’t tell you a linebacker’s name. Let him fail at doing his job one good time, and the whole world knows who he is. You might be driving roads no one has heard of and checking businesses on midnights, but what you do is important. Mess up one good time, and you’re getting roasted on HLN, having to wear a disguise just to go to Wal-Mart.
To Deputy Troy Hess and Deputy Aaron Chadwick: congratulations on your successful completion of the Law Enforcement Training Academy Class 2017-A. May you serve your community with honor and distinction. Welcome to the family.