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Academy Celebrates 19 New Graduates

11/6/2015 10:30:44 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

(Story by Kelly Farrell, Hobbs News-Sun)

On Thursday morning, the Southeastern New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy graduated its latest class of officers after weeks of intensive training with bagpipers and a large crowd of supportive friends and family.

The academy’s 16-week program at the New Mexico Junior College garnered 19 new graduates, as Class A-15-35, marched into the Lea County Event Center to receive their diplomas and badges before taking the Oath of Honor.

The cadets are sponsored by 11 different law enforcement agencies from around the state. Four will stay in Lea County. Stephanie Dow, Richard Murillo and Mickey Henderson will work for the Lea County Sheriff’s Department and Amaday Duran is scheduled to work with the Loving-ton Police Department.

“Always remember there’s substantial pride, honor and tradition in what you do,” Dean of the Division of Public Safety August Fons told the graduates before presenting them to the audience. “No matter what anyone says — without you — our individual communities and our nation would not survive the onslaught of criminality. Hold your heads up high all the time and don’t ever quit. You’re doing a good and honorable thing.”

Fons’ presentation echoes the sentiment of the class motto: “And maybe remind the few, if ill of us they speak, that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.”

“It’s a wonderfully exciting day for them,” Fons said after the ceremony. “They’ve completed a hard 16 weeks here and they’re now able to go out and do what they’ve been doing for a long time.”

Fons thanked SNMLEA Director Angela Byrd for her time and efforts into helping the academy’s cadets succeed.

“They start a new career and totally life-changing situation where they’ve been given the opportunity to protect the public,” Byrd said. “It’s a big undertaking and I wish them all well.”

She said the weeks-long training encompasses “just about everything” from traffic stops and communications to academics.

Shelby Stroik, of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish, delivered the distinguished graduate address and thanked loved ones for their vital support role.

“The past weeks have been the longest and, in some ways, the shortest 16 weeks I could ever imagine. We have experienced both great struggles and remarkable triumphs,” Stroik said.

Fellow graduate Zachery Chavez, of the NMDGF, said after the ceremony it felt “wonderful” to graduate from the academy and looks forward to the future. “It’s a great honor to be part of the great team of law enforcement officers,” Chavez said. “It’s a new brotherhood and a new family. I’m looking forward to going out and being able to help people and do what it is that law enforcement does to help our community and make a good name.”

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