COLUMBUS — An overflow crowd gathered Friday afternoon at the Ohio Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus for the graduation ceremonies for the 138th Basic Peace Officer School. Three Sidney police officers were among the 38 graduates.
They include William B. Anderson, Rachel A. Croskrey and Brandon M. Heindl. In addition to the three Sidney officers, the graduates included law enforcement officers from 21 other jurisdictions across Ohio. The 22 week course began on Aug. 21, 2017.
In his brief remarks, Academy Commandant Ohio State Patrol Captain Arthur J. Combest thanked the families of the class for their support, and reminded the graduates that their training provided them the tools to deliver courteous service to the citizens of Ohio. “Integrity and professionalism are traits that will enable you to politely and honorably serve the public,” Combest stated.
Ohio State Patrol Superintendent Colonel Paul A. Pride also addressed the graduating class. He reminded the graduates of their mission to serve and protect the public.
“Your ability to build relationships in the community will be the key to your success,” Pride told the graduates. “Never lose sight of the importance of the work that you do,” he continued and closed his brief remarks with “Godspeed to each one of you.”
Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born also offered brief remarks. His comments centered on three points: collaboration; leadership; and, opportunity. “You will not survive in your career without collaboration,” Born asserted.
In addressing leadership, Born told the graduates that “Leadership begins at the bottom. It is your responsibility to do the right thing every minute of every day. Your communities trust you just like your families trust you.”
In addressing opportunity, Born reminded the graduates that they had the opportunity “to define their careers – from this moment forward.”
The class speaker was Westerville Police Officer Khyrell K. Baggoo. Baggoo reminded his classmates that when the 40 members of the class gathered together that first day of training in August, the experience could best be described as “controlled chaos.”
“We became family,” Baggoo said. “We worked toward a common goal. We motivated ourselves and when necessary, motivated one another. We now proudly wear our uniforms. We now proudly wear our badges. We are the 138th Family.”
The principle speaker was retired Upper Arlington Police Chief Dwight A. Holcomb, who currently serves as Vice President for Corporate Security for The Dispatch Printing Company. Holcomb was a member of the 38th Basic Peace Officer School.
“When I attended classes here forty years ago, the classes lasted ten weeks. I walked through the dorm and looked at my room – it has the same furniture that was there forty years ago. Cruisers had a single revolving light on top – sirens so large that when it was activated, you couldn’t hear the radio. Our reports were hand-written, with copies made using carbon paper – carbon paper – does it even still exist?”
“Today’s tools include facial recognition, license plate readers, laptops in patrol vehicles, body cameras, smart phones – but the mission of policing has not changed – you serve and protect the public and arrest the bad guys.”
“Your family is the most important part of your life,” Holcomb told the graduates. “They worry about you more than you can know. Every time you put on the uniform, every time you walk out the door – they worry.”
Holcomb also told the graduates that they held the keys to their futures. “Seventeen years after I was sitting in your place, I was named chief of the Upper Arlington Police Department. You too, can determine your future in a profession that is one of the most difficult, yet one of the most rewarding in existence.”
“Not since the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s has law enforcement been challenged as it is today. Always, always, always protect, respect and honor your uniform and your badge.”
“In about 40 years, the 238th graduating class will be sitting in your seats. I’ll be 103 then. Hopefully one of you will be standing here in my place.”
Following Holcomb’s remarks, each graduate was presented their Certificate of Training. Once all 38 certificates were presented, the graduates received a standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, graduates were personally congratulated by family, friends, members of the Academy’s teaching staff, and local department officials. Attending the ceremonies were Officer Matthew Dembski and Officer Mark Brunson, who (along with Officer William Baker, who was unable to attend) will serve as training officers, Operations Captain William Shoemaker and Chief William Balling. Mayor Mike Barhorst was also in attendance.
“I am pleased to welcome the newest members of the department to Sidney,” Balling said. “It is the vision of the Sidney Police Department to exceed the expectations of our community, to adapt to the ever changing challenges, and to provide the highest level of service and protection to our citizens. The first step in achieving this vision is to select the most qualified candidates and provide them with the skills needed to succeed.
“The Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy provides the highest level of training for new officers,” Balling said. “With the skills that they have learned over the last six months I am confident in their ability to have a long and successful career here in Sidney.”