South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy Class 21-02 graduation held

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

By Su Ann Bird

AMERICUS – South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy Class 21-02 completed their training and were presented with their Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificates of completion in a small ceremony in the SGTC LEA classroom with instructors, family, and friends present recently.

The graduates of SGTC’s LEA Class 21-02 included: Marcellous Deshun of Arlington, GA; Richard Franklin of Americus, GA; and Julie Soto of Oglethorpe, GA.

“At a time when many people have made the decision not to enter a career in law enforcement, you have ignored those things and chosen to be a part of the thin blue line that allows us to have a peaceful society,” said SGTC President Dr. John Watford, when he welcomed the graduates and their families and fellow officers to the small graduation. “Your decision to follow and enforce the laws of this nation is what stands between us and chaos. Thank you for your willingness to serve and thank you for choosing South Georgia Technical College for your POST certification training.”

Then before continuing the graduation ceremony, Dr. Watford recognized retiring Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Vanessa Wall, for her nearly two decades of service to the college. “Chief Wall played a major role in the start of the South Georgia Technical College Criminal Justice Program and the Law Enforcement Academy.  She is one of the reasons we are all here today honoring these students. On behalf of the faculty and staff at South Georgia Technical College, I would like to congratulate you on your retirement and thank you for all that you have done to make this college a better place for the faculty, staff, and students. It is very fitting that we do this in the law enforcement classroom with students present.”

Dr. Watford is shown above with Cadet Marcellous Deshun who was named as the LEA Class 21-02 Class Representative and Top Gun award winner. He also received the Chief Vanessa Wall Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Academy initial scholarship and the Lt. Michael Sangster Scholarship.
Photo by Su Ann Bird

After that presentation, South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy Director Brett Murray offered remarks to the LEA graduates and their families.  “I am very proud of each of these graduates and their commitment to complete this program.  Despite many obstacles and challenges, they persevered and have earned the right to graduate and receive their POST certification. They have completed over 700 hours of training and learned to care and support each other just like they will other officers when they report to duty.”

He also gave the three ideas or suggestions for how to have a successful career in law enforcement.  “Never stop learning.  Continue to follow the law and let the law guide everything that you do,” said Murray.  “And finally find opportunities to make life better.  Find someone to help. Be observant and helpful and be mindful of others.” Murray closed by reminding the new officers to “honor those who have gone before you and to say thank you to your family and to the people that matter in your life.”

Two cadets from Class 21-02 were presented with class awards at the end of their POST certification training. Marcellous Deshun of Arlington, GA, was presented with the “Class Representative” and “Top Gun” award by Director Murray.  He received the “Top Gun” award for excelling on the firing range and was selected by his peers for this award.  Julie Soto of Oglethorpe earned the “Academic Achievement” award for having the highest class average.

In addition to the class awards, all three students were recognized as scholarship recipients from class 21-02.  Marcellous Deshun was presented with the Lt. Michael Sangster Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship and the newly endowed Chief Vanessa Wall Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement scholarship.  Richard Franklin of Americus was awarded the Smallwood-Sondron Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship and Julie Soto received the Lou Crouch Law Enforcement Scholarship.

The history of the South Georgia Technical College Law Enforcement Academy began 13 years ago.  South Georgia Technical College was selected as one of six technical colleges in Georgia in August 2008 to participate in a pilot program that would allow new law enforcement officers to receive their basic law enforcement training at a state technical college and obtain college credit at the same time.  By becoming a regional training center for POST certified Law Enforcement Officers, South Georgia Technical College has been able to provide support to local and regional law enforcement agencies as well as provide additional training opportunities for students interested in entering the Criminal Justice field.

The LEA graduates received their POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification from South Georgia Technical College 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.

For more information about the Law Enforcement Academy contact the Law Enforcement Academy office at 229.931.2716 or SGTC Law Enforcement Academy Director Brett Murray at 229.931.2756.