11 cadets graduate from SGTC Law Enforcement Academy

Published 2:56 pm Saturday, January 5, 2019

AMERICUS — After 18 weeks of intense training inside and outside of the classroom, class 18-02 of South Georgia Technical College’s (SGTC) Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) cadets walked across the stage to receive their POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification. The graduation ceremony was held recently in the John M. Pope center on the college’s Americus campus, and was attended by more than 200 family members, law enforcement officers and supporters from the community.
The class, composed of 11 cadets, included: Kody Barfield of Warner Robins, Jimmy D. Coolley of Denver, Colo., Dylan J. Frandsen of Cuthbert, Dywaina Kay Harnage of Dawson, Quantavious Howard of Cuthbert, Michael Wayne Kinard of Vienna, Shelly Landers of Americus, Joshua Poss of Rochelle, Re’Kyris R. Ross of Dawson, Carenda L. Starling of Shellman. and Alexander Stuart of Cartersville.
The ceremony marks the end of the cadets’ basic training and the beginning of their professional careers in law enforcement.
SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D., began the day with a welcome to the cadets and to the attendees.
“This is a revered occasion,” he said. “I say revered because it is indeed a privilege and honor for us to be able to honor these men and women who have committed themselves, their lives and their careers to law enforcement.”
Following the welcome, Cadet Kody Barfield continued the ceremony with an invocation and led the room in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. LEA director Brett Murray then stepped up to the stage to offer a class overview for the attendees, detailing the rigor that the cadets endured for 18 weeks.
Murray went on to introduce the guest speaker — Roger Hayes, director of law enforcement services for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Hayes is responsible for the overall management of the Law Enforcement Services Division and 16 traffic enforcement networks around the state. He works daily to ensure that law enforcement officers — and civilians alike — are safe on Georgia roadways.
Having been a certified peace officer in the state of Georgia for more than 30 years, Hayes offered a few words of advice to the graduating cadets, asking the question: “what’s important now?”
He opened his speech with some congratulations to the cadets and a few stark statistics detailing the number of officers who have been killed in the line of duty in 2018.
“I submit to you today that at least a percentage of those deaths were preventable — because what is predictable is preventable,” he said. Following that submission, Hayes offered the cadets four pieces of advice that will help them ensure that they return home safely each day: wear your seatbelt, wear your vest, watch your speed, and don’t be complacent.
Hayes turned the microphone back to Murray, who presented five scholarships and three awards to top performing students in the class. Scholarships included the Lt. Michael Sangster Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship, awarded to Carenda L. Starling; the Lou Crouch Law Enforcement Scholarship, awarded to Shelly Landers; the Smallwood-Sondron Law Enforcement Scholarship, awarded to Kody Barfield; and the Smarr-Smith Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice Scholarship, awarded to both Cora Baker (class 17-02) and Dalton Windham (class 18-01).
Awards were presented to Cadet Kody Barfield, who was awarded the Academic Excellence award for receiving the highest grade average for the class; Cadet Dylan J. Frandsen, who received Top Gun award for excelling on the firing range; and Cadet Carenda L. Starling, who was presented with the Class Representative award after being selected by her classmates to deliver remarks at the ceremony on their behalf.
After Starling’s remarks, Watford and Murray presented the cadets with their certificates. A benediction was given by Cadet Michael Wayne Kinard.
South Georgia Tech is one of six technical colleges in Georgia that are allowed to provide training for new law enforcement officers to receive their basic law enforcement training and obtain college credit at the same time. The cadets undergo 18 weeks and over 700 hours of intense training mentally and physically.
The LEA graduates received their POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification from SGTC as well as a technical certificate of credit that can be utilized toward a diploma or associate degree in criminal justice.
The Law Enforcement Academy program takes 18 weeks to complete and most recruits qualify for the HOPE Grant and other forms of financial aid. Admission standards require all students to undergo a thorough background check and adhere to all rules as set forth by the state POST Council. Students will also have to meet minimum scores in English, reading, and math.