Drum Roll Please..................
Friday, 01/13/2006: Graduation Day.
Friday morning was our final dress inspection. Many families and friends were on hand to watch us march out the parade deck, raise the flags, and be congratulated by various police chiefs from different agencies.
We were let go early in order to rehearse the night's graduation ceremony.
After rehearsal, the audience started filling in at about 5:00. My class marched in to the room through heavy applause and took our seats in the front of the auditoreum. After a brief speech by the academy commander and a guest speaker, my sergeant addressed the crowd. He bypassed his written speech and spoke to us directly from the heart. His word of praise and encouragement were inspiring made more special since we were his first class as an academy sergeant. He then introduced me to the crowd as I took the stage. I had been voted by my class to speak and now was my time. I was nervous addressing a crowd this large (several hundred at least) but was able to get through my three minute speech on leadership. I received applause and praise from my class as I returned to my seat.
Next, the class awards were presented for the top recruit in shooting, fitness, academics, and overall (average of all three). I won the 'academic' and 'overall' awards and could hear my family and friends cheering from the audience. A fifth award for 'exemplary recruit' was determined by a secret ballot of my class. It went to a great guy who struggled greatly in the beginning but never gave up and perservered to the very end. He was the obvious choice to represent the class spirit and I was glad to see that he won.
Next, we lined up in front of the stage and took the oath of office. This swearing in by the judge was the moment we officially became police officers.
Finally, each of us were presented with our police badge. I was extremely proud of the accomplishment and couldn't wait to show my family. The class then received our final dismissal from the sergeant by screaming out our class yell. This ended the ceremony. I was congratulated by several people but was most happy to see my family. My wife, kids, sister, mother, father, and inlaws were there to congratulate me. I could see the pride in the kids' eyes as they finally saw me in uniform. It was a great night and a great feeling.
The recruits for my city will return to the academy for two more weeks of specific training before actually hitting the streets with a training officer. I'll keep my blog updated as best I can.