Wayne Community College has graduated its 74th Basic Law Enforcement Training class. The 12 cadets who completed the college’s academy received certificates to work as sworn law enforcement officers in North Carolina.
Certificates were conferred on: Bobby Ray Stocks Jr. of Dudley, Kayla Leigh Thornton of Mount Olive, Christina Marie Creech and Tyler Alexander Hicks of Pikeville, Jamal Antonio Williams of the Belfast community, Justin Michael Kelly of Saulston Township, Jordan Scott Riggle of Calypso, Yenifer Campos of La Grange, Devon Montavis Green of Stantonsburg, Alexa Marinero-Esteban of Smithfield, Cashus Paul Holt Mills of Princeton, and John Colton Oliver of Snow Hill.
Four of the cadets had received scholarships to attend the academy. They and their scholarships were Campos – JR Memmelaar Scholarship, Hicks and Williams – Goldsboro Police Department Scholarships, and Riggle – Wayne County Law Enforcement Association Scholarship.
Awards were presented to graduates for outstanding performance in various training areas.
Thornton garnered the “Major J. Memmelarr Student Excellence Award.” In addition to demonstrating academic excellence, WCC Public Safety Division Chair Beverly Deans said that “no matter the situation [she] was put into, [she] always came out with a positive and professional attitude.”
Formerly the valedictorian award, it has been renamed to honor Jay R. Memmelarr Jr, an officer with the Goldsboro Police Department who died in the line of duty in 2017. He had been the valedictorian of his WCC BLET class and later became an instructor for the academy.
The Physical Fitness Award went to Williams, who excelled in all activities designed to prepare the recruits for the Police Officer’s Physical Ability Test and timed runs. WCC Law Enforcement Training Coordinator Angie Blizzard noted that he “was a driving force, a motivator.”
Oliver was presented the “Top Gun” award for demonstrating the most overall proficiency in use of firearms. Cadets complete 48 hours of firearms work in both the classroom and on the firing range.
Green received the Leadership Award. According to Blizzard, he “demonstrated service, dedication and leadership” and was “an asset to the class.”
Thornton and Riggle were selected by their peers to speak during the ceremony. Both talked about the rigors of the program, the dedication and sacrifices of their loved ones and friends that allowed them to complete it and the respect they have for their instructors and their new profession.
“There were times when it felt like time just stopped and we’d never get here,” Riggle said.
Thornton concurred, remarking on the “sweat, tears and a little bit of sleep” they all endured, but that “we were taught to always keep going and always trust the process … and that pain is weakness leaving the body.”
Deans acknowledged the mental and physical challenges the cadets had faced during 702 hours of training covering a minimum of 39 aspects of law enforcement. She congratulated them for the commitment that got them through it all.
“What you will do may not always be easy, but it will be rewarding,” Blizzard told the graduates. “You have learned a lot about the words ‘integrity,’ ‘honor,’ and ‘discipline.’ Now it’s time to go out and not just speak those words but live those words through your actions in your personal and professional lives.”
“Do not be impressed by the authority granted by your badge, but rather be humbled by it, for it is much larger than you are,” Blizzard advised. “Never forget the principles for which you stand and put yourself above no person.”
With this graduating class, the school has produced 1,173 graduates since its inception as a curriculum program in 1983. Currently, WCC graduates work for 52 different law enforcement agencies in this state and more elsewhere.
WCC’s academy is accredited by the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and N.C. Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission through the N.C. Community College System.