CCPD officers graduate academy, get sworn in
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Police Department swore in two new officers following the graduation ceremony for the cadets who completed the 2018 daytime Extended Basic Peace Officer Charlie course from the Central Texas College Police Academy Friday morning at the Anderson Campus Center.
The 24 cadets passed the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement state licensing exam with an overall class average of 87.5 percent, making all cadets eligible to become peace officers in Texas. Throughout the 19-week, 720-hour-course, cadets received hands-on training in all aspects of law enforcement, including defensive tactics, firearms and police vehicle operation.
The overall class average for the entire course was 93.80. Nick Onesto, with the Georgetown Police Department, earned the Academic Honors award with a 98.6 average. Tyler Fry, with the Harker Heights Police Department, received the Chuck Dinwiddie “Top Gun” award for best firearms proficiency and was also chosen as class president by his peers. Randy Rodak, with the Temple Fire Department, received the “Top Gear” award for best driving performance. Sgt. Steven O’Neal, with the Copperas Cove Police Department, won the award for Best Instructor.
Special Agent Daniel Tichenor with the FBI served as the guest speaker. Tichenor began his law enforcement career with the Killeen Police Department after graduating from the CTC Police Academy 23 years ago.
Tichenor offered a multitude of pieces of advice to the graduates throughout his speech, ranging from serious to humorous.
The majority of the graduates will start their careers as patrol officers, Tichenor said. Patrol is the “lifeblood of any police agency.”
“Your time here will be marked by tremendous moments of tension, terror or fun squeezed in between hours of monotonous activity,” Tichenor said.
The 24 graduates included jailers, firefighters, veterans and recent college graduates and more.
“What you all share is that you’ll all return to your communities and begin your work as public servants,” Tichenor said. “For some of you, this is the top of the mountain, your dream job that you have now achieved. For others, your graduation today simply marks the beginning of a career that will end in a much different place.”
Tichenor explained that some will immediately begin responding to car wrecks and domestic disputes while others in a more rural position will be responding to calls dealing with animals.
“Whatever your service stands, know that your mission is not simply just to enforce the law, but to be an important part of the community,” he said. “As a police officer, you’re going to wear many hats. Only one of them involves the law and taking people to jail.”
Tichenor also touched on the image of law enforcement portrayed through media and entertainment. Television shows and movies portray law enforcement as having the ability to solve crimes quickly with advanced technology. Public sentiment is also being shaped through viral videos of police officers behaving “in a manner inconsistent with how we should act,” Tichenor said.
When police officers abuse citizens, “they erode the public’s confidence in law enforcement”, which “makes the job of good police officers much more difficult and much more unsafe,” he added.
Tichenor advised the officers that when they begin their patrolling, they will run into someone whose perception of police has been shaped by a viral video of an officer stepping out of line.
“Instill in yourself- leave every interaction knowing that the next time that person deals with a police officer they will remember how you treated them,” Tichenor said. “Don’t ever be the reason why cops you don’t know from departments you’ve never heard of have to answer for your behavior.”
Tichenor also shared that the graduates should embrace the cameras and microphones they will be wearing that will be recording their interactions- these will serve as evidence in court and will be used to help resolve citizen complains.
Other bits of advice Tichenor shared included to never anger jailers and dispatchers, be the officer who invests in their tools for the job, become the officer that other officers want to respond to a call with. He also encouraged the new officers to embrace their fear on the job and get past it.
“You’re going to be afraid and that’s perfectly natural,” he said. “Police officers are called into situations that others run from.”
Following the graduation ceremony, Copperas Cove judge F.W. “Bill” Price swore in Randolph Yoak and Wayne Burris as officers of the Copperas Cove Police Department with Chief of Police Eddie Wilson and Copperas Cove Mayor Frank Seffrood present. Yoak and Burris were pinned by their wives after signing their oaths of office.
Yoak and Burris both said that they were ready to get to work after passing their licensing exam.
Wilson congratulated the two men and explained that the hiring process was not easy. Sifting through more than 100 applications, the department only managed to fill two of four available spots, which says a lot about the two officers, Wilson said.
Yoak and Burris join two graduates from the Bravo course, Joshua Nixon and Cory Parten, as officers sworn in this year.
“It certainly helps in getting the numbers up to our staffing levels,” Wilson said of the new additions to the department. Retaining and recruiting personnel is a constant cycle among law enforcement departments across the nation, he added.
“There’s not a shortage of people who want to be police officers, but most departments are like us in the fact that we’re not going to lower our standards just to fill numbers,” Wilson said. “We owe that to the community, we want to make sure we put the best officers out there and if it even means us having to operate shorthanded for an extended period of time, we would rather have quality over quantity.”
The CCPD is going through the hiring process currently to recruit more officers, with six more expected to go through the next police academy course beginning in January. The department currently has 54 funded positions.
The Coryell County Sheriff’s Office also received two graduates from the Charlie course, with jailers James Seale and Mario Land obtaining their Peace Officer license and being deputized. Sheriff Scott Williams shared that he chooses to have jailers go through the police academy so that he has people in the rolls waiting for a vacancy to open up.
The total number of sworn deputies in the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office is now 34. Seale and Land will go back to working in the jail, as deputies, but will move to a patrol car once a vacancy opens up, Williams said.