A new wave of law enforcement officers will be patrolling Southwest Colorado’s streets following Saturday’s Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy commencement ceremony.
Twelve cadets stood proudly in Escalante Middle School as they received their badges and celebrated four months of hard work and perseverance.
They endured more than 500 hours of training and had to maintain a score of 75 percent or higher on all exams to graduate.
The academy is offered through Southwest Colorado Community College at its Mancos campus, and includes instructors representing nine local law enforcement agencies in Southwest Colorado.
Class Sgt. Alexander Kennedy said the group has “been through a lot together.”
“We survived the lectures, learning how to shoot and getting tased,” he said. “We would never pretend or act like we know everything, but we’ve been given an excellent foundation on which to begin our careers.”
Some cadets were sponsored by law enforcement agencies and will become sworn officers in upcoming months.
Among them was Forrest Kinney, 24, who will serve under the Durango Police Department.
Kinney, who also received an academic excellence award, said it is his goal to make a difference in someone’s life.
“This is about being able to look myself in the mirror and be proud of what I do,” he said.
Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez said the graduates should be proud of their accomplishments.
“Over the course of your career, you will have the opportunity to impact someone’s life forever,” he said in a commencement address. “Being a law enforcement officer has many rewards, but those won’t be found in a paycheck.”