Demanding, demeaning and exhausting only begin to describe what nine would-be cops underwent during the past seven months.
Worthwhile, constructive and effective would also accurately express how the group collectively felt following their experience as Nye County Sheriff’s Office Regional Academy recruits.
The experience was not unlike a military boot camp, where the recruits are essentially tested on their ability to handle and overcome mentally taxing and physically grueling situations, to simply do their respective jobs.
Making the grade
On Saturday evening Jan. 13, those recruits became graduates, following a special ceremony at Pahrump Valley High School.
Deputy Gregory Curtain sang the national anthem prior to the start of the ceremony.
“This is the culmination of an awful lot of time, effort and energy put in by everybody,” said Lt. David Borouchowitz. “But when I come to a ceremony such as this, I realize that it was worth every minute and every bit of effort.”
Throughout the academy the recruits are taught about many issues, some of which are unique only to Nye County, including brothels, year-round fireworks retailers, locally owned wineries and off-road vehicles.
Additionally, the academy puts a strong emphasis on the value of integrity in law enforcement, all the while teaching the recruits basic skills needed on a daily basis such as adeptness with firearms, keen defensive tactics, and general people skills.
Borouchowitz pointed out that not all who sign up for the academy will complete the academy.
“I do have to say that not everyone who enrolls will graduate,” he said. “We started out with a total of 14 and ended up with nine graduating this year, so some do drop out. It is a very standard percentage and unfortunately, not everybody is going to make it. It also shows that not everybody is meant to be a cop. This time around we lost the exact same percentage that we normally seem to lose.”
The ceremony began with a poignant video segment of fallen Nye County officers over the years, followed by a sheriff’s office flag presentation.
The national anthem was sung by Deputy Greg Curtain, with the opening prayer said by Chaplain Gene Hall.
Words of wisdom
Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly addressed the graduates during her time at the podium.
“Today you have completed the transformation from citizen to law enforcement officer,” Wehrly said. “You have passed all of the hiring segments, survived the physical and mental training of academy life, sacrificed a lot over the last few weeks, and successfully arrived at this moment in your life. You have worked hard through personal and family hardships and now you are launching a new career.”
To make an important point on commanding respect out in the field, Wehrly used an interesting metaphor to drive home her point.
“Have you ever been to a circus?” she asked. “At a circus, the lion tamer is in the ring before the lions enter. The reason is to establish dominance. If not, you would see a much different show. As law enforcement officers, we are the lion tamers and we must establish dominance. Not overbearing dominance, just compassionate, command-and-control. Even when we enter their space, we take control.”
Like father, like son
It’s worth noting that the ceremony did have a few unique and profound moments, as at least two graduates are related to current full-time Nye County Sheriff’s Office staff.
Lieutenant Eric Murphy was excited to watch his youngest son Cody get sworn in.
“This was something we both talked about over the years,” Murphy said following the ceremony. “He ultimately decided that this would be his career route and this is the way he wanted to go. He truly wanted to work for the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.”
Murphy also said his son’s decision weighed heavy on his own mind after thinking about what he experienced during his many years with the sheriff’s office.
Roughly 10 years ago, Murphy was nearly killed after responding to a dispatch call.
“As many people in town know, I was shot three times back in 2008,” he recalled. “To have my youngest son wanting to jump into this career after seeing his dad go through something like that, speaks volumes about his bravery, initiative and willingness to serve this community. I had seen the worst and overcome all of that. I also had to deal with my own personal demons during that period roughly 10 years ago. Cody and I had a long talk about it and I am extremely proud of him. I think he made a great choice and I think he will make a great deputy in our community.”
Nye County Undersheriff Michael Eisenloffel also enjoyed the privilege of watching his son Theodore graduate from the academy.
“This was a very, very proud moment for me on a personal level,” Eisenloffel said. “Years ago, I never thought this would have happened, but last year when my son told me that he wanted to apply and wondered what I thought about it, I gave him my wholehearted support. I am just beyond pleased and proud to see what he, along with his class, has accomplished. Along those same lines, I am very happy to see that he is more than willing to take on this great tradition and its responsibilities.”
Son Theodore, who prefers to be called “Theo,” said becoming a sheriff’s deputy was certainly not his first choice as a career.
“I went into the funeral home business instead,” he said. “But after a couple of years, I found my calling in law enforcement.”
The younger Eisenloffel also mentioned an episode during the academy training that he will not likely forget any time soon.
“During the training, I was one of the few who got tased twice,” he said. “I was tased by both the old and the new generation of tasers, and that was probably one of the worst experiences of my life.”
Not all graduates this year were from the local area.
Jonathon Johnson moved to Pahrump from Davenport, Iowa, to become a Nye County Sheriff’s deputy.
Several family members, including his mother, traveled to the Silver State to attend the graduation ceremony.
Johnson said since he was a child, he had dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer.
He also said he and his grandmother would always watch the television show “Cops” together many years ago.
“When I was a kid, my friends wanted to be Superman or Batman, but I always thought being a police officer would be very cool,” he said. “I wanted to get out of Iowa and look for something bigger with a distinct challenge. I have been living in Nevada for close to three years now. I love Southern Nevada a lot. I love the scenery, especially the mountains. It’s very wide open out here and I enjoy nature. Right now I live in Las Vegas but I do plan on moving to Pahrump.”
Johnson also spoke about his experience during the academy.
“Myself and the other recruits held firmly together, finished out strong and I’m glad that we finally made it to the end,” he said. “It feels amazing to finally be given the badge where we can go out and help the community. I think it’s very important to try and build a bridge between the proverbial gap between the community and the sheriff’s office.”
Located roughly 73 miles northwest of Pahrump is the town of Beatty, where law enforcement coverage has been described as “sparse” in recent years.
Of the nine newly-sworn-in deputies, Sheriff Wehrly said at least one will join three other deputies now serving in the community.
“As far as coverage up there, right now it’s pretty tough,” she said. “We will be getting more deputies up in that area. We are bringing people up to cover, so it’s not like they don’t have coverage at present. It would make it a lot easier and much more cost-effective to actually have someone stationed up there. I also know we need more coverage in the Tonopah area, as well as the areas in between. We also have a couple of our graduates that I believe are going to the community of Round Mountain, but I know that at least one of our new graduates will be going to the town of Beatty.”
The badge-pinning portion of the ceremony allowed a family member to pin a small replica badge upon the lapel of the newly-sworn deputy.
The process didn’t go as well as expected as it took a bit longer than anticipated to puncture the tough lapel material, much to the comical and lighthearted amusement of those in the audience.
“There are no actual holes in the lapel where you can easily pin on the pin,” Undersheriff Eisenloffel noted with a laugh. “I think I accidentally stuck Theo in the chest when I was trying to do it.”
Sheriff Wehrly performed the actual swearing-in portion, followed by the deputies stating their Oath of Honor.
Also during the graduation ceremony, Michael Sherlock, executive director of the Nevada Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), served as the evening’s guest speaker.
Sherlock has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, serving in both Nevada and California where he held various positions including canine officer, field training officer, detective and commander.
POST is the regulatory agency for law enforcement training throughout the state and is responsible for the certification of the nearly 18,000 peace officers serving in over 130 criminal justice agencies.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. OnTwitter:@pvtimes