By Kelsey Givens
From the classroom to the streets, after 27 weeks in the Nye County Sheriff’s police academy, the latest class of graduates will now come face to face with what it really means to be on the front lines of law enforcement.
No longer fledglings, but not quite ready to face the streets alone, five new deputies will begin 22 weeks of field training, starting with a two-day tour of the county and trip to Carson City to see the peace officer memorial.
During the county trip, the deputies will be shown all of the areas NCSO serves as well as be introduced to the other resident deputies serving those places.
In addition to providing them with a greater knowledge of the county they will cover, the trip will also serve as a reminder to the deputies how important and sometimes dangerous their jobs can be.
“The main purpose of it is to get them familiar with the rest of the county … so they can understand the vastness of our county,” academy instructor Deputy Brian Jonas explained after the cadets’ graduation at the Bob Ruud Community Center Saturday.
“And the other purpose of going up there is I want them to see our memorial. You know I hammer them throughout the whole academy about the reality, so I like for them to go see the memorial,” he said.
After returning from their trip, the new deputies will then begin the process of riding along with designated field training officers to further their law enforcement education.
For the first several weeks of the program, the new deputies will simply observe as field training officers respond to calls for service.
After four or five weeks of watching, it will then be their turn to begin responding to actual service calls while under the watchful eye of those same officers.
Though they’ve studied and practiced how to handle the situations they will face out on the streets, the difference between practicing and actually doing is as different as night and day.
“It’s two different worlds actually. There’s no do-overs in real life,” Jonas said.
“In the past I’ve seen people do very well in the academy and then they struggle to make the transition and they can’t make the transition. I tell the cadets you went through the academy and started out being, as they call it, a soup sandwich, and in the end they become understanding and they know what they’re doing everyday and it becomes routine. Now it’s starting all over again, they’re down at the bottom of the FTO program and they’re confused, unsure of themselves, they struggle to drive the car and talk on the radio. But if they buckle down and do what they’re supposed to, by the end it’s routine.”
Though the transition can be hard for some, Jonas said he believes this group of new deputies will do just fine in the program.
“I don’t foresee any of them having trouble with the FTO program, because they all did well and they’re pretty level-headed and mature, so I think they’ll do well,” he said.
And while these new deputies are facing 22 weeks of additional training before they’ll be out on their own, their excitement and relief to have graduated the academy and start the next chapter in their careers was clear at graduation.
The six members of the class, the five who have now become deputies and a sixth who has moved on to work for parole and probation in Las Vegas, were beaming as they marched onto the stage.
Keynote speaker Judge Kimberly Wanker soon after took to the stage to congratulate the graduates and impart a few words of wisdom before they were presented with awards and medals for their performance in the academy.
“Cadets, you are about to embark on a journey in law enforcement that few others have the opportunity, or even the ability to undertake. I want to congratulate each and every one of you for your commitment to law enforcement . . . To become an officer, one must posses the qualities of respect for others, compassion, self discipline, honesty, courage, knowledge, attention to duty and adherence to law, policy and procedure, integrity and if that were not enough, you must also possess the necessary physical acumen. Congratulations to each of you in qualifying to join an elite group of heroes,” Wanker said.
The Fifth Judicial District Court judge also relayed the heaviness of what is required of deputies.
“Yet in reality, enforcing the law is only a small part of what you will do. If each day your job was only to enforce the law, your job would be much easier. The reality is you will be called upon to try and wake someone who has laid down to rest for the last time. This isn’t enforcing the law, but it is law enforcement. You will be the first to arrive at the scene of medical emergencies, the first to start CPR on a heart that’s stopped beating, or to try and stop the bleeding on someone who is injured. Again this isn’t enforcing the law, but it is law enforcement. You will respond to traffic accidents and tend to broken bones. You may be called to help the elderly who have fallen and are unable to get up. And sometimes you will have to visit the next of kin and deliver the news that a loved one has passed away. This isn’t enforcing the law, but it is law enforcement.
“The list is endless; the point is that only a fraction of what people do as law enforcement officers is enforcing the law, but all of the things you will do are law enforcement,” she said.
All six graduates, Jeremy Bunker, Michael Connelly, Katlyn Ferrel, Alvin Hill, Christopher Hopson and Elia Johnson were then honored for their performances in the academy.
Three of those graduates were also given additional awards in recognition of an outstanding performance in certain areas of their training.
Bunker was given the Top Gun award for best marksmanship at the shooting range.
Ferrel received an award for graduating with the highest academic average in the class.
And Connelly received the Mercy Vehicle Operations award, the most inspirational award and a gold medal for earning the most points on the physical fitness test in the class.
Once all of the awards had been handed out, it was time for the cadets to receive their certificates for completing the program and for the five moving on as NCSO deputies to receive their badges.
One by one each graduate was called forward to be presented with a certificate by Sheriff Tony DeMeo and then to meet their family on stage, where a badge was pinned firmly to the right side of their uniform.
Once certificates had been handed out and badges pinned, Wanker took to the podium again to administer the oath of office.
The cadets were now graduates of the program, ready to take the next step in their careers as law enforcement officers.
“I don’t think there are any words to explain it. I kept telling myself, this is my goal, the badge. Every day, every week was just one step closer to the badge. That’s how I made it all the way through. Now it feels like I’m walking on air. It’s just awesome,” Hill said after the ceremony.
“I’m not ever going to forget it. I’d like to thank God, I’d like to thank the sheriff’s department and I’d like to thank my family. And I’d like to thank the other recruits, we all pulled together as a team and really made it interesting,” he said.