Class 254

Thirteen graduates of the SFSC Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) Academy, Class 254 were recognized at a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 8, in the SFSC University Center Auditorium, Highlands Campus, Avon Park. 

No longer cadets of the academy, the BLE graduates who received occupational certificates were Christopher Bandy, Michael R. Barry, Jeira Colon, Dustin L. Edwards, Beth Gainous, LaToya Henley, Estella Islas, Cierra L. Johnson, Wesley Jones, John Layport, Meghan Nielsen, David Shoopman, and Brittany Whittington. 

Guest speaker for the ceremony was Chief John Eason of the Wauchula Police Department, who addressed the graduates. He explained that Sir Robert Peele, who established the London metropolitan police department in 1829, stressed the importance of earning public support.  

“Winning public approval requires vigorous work to build reputations, enforcing laws impartially, hiring officers who represent and understand the community, and using force only as a last resort,” Eason said. “This still rings true today. Each of you have worked tirelessly to make it to this point. Do not throw it away by forgetting your oath and canon of ethics. Each of your classmates, your family, your instructors, your agency, and most importantly, your community demands only the absolute best you have to offer.” 

Eason went on to thank the family and friends of the graduates: “On behalf of the instructors of the SFSC Basic Law Enforcement Academy, I want to thank the graduates’ friends and family members. You helped get your loved ones to this point today. You have each faced the challenges and adversities throughout this course but you’ve risen to the challenge. Continue to support your law enforcement officer.” 

During the ceremony, special awards were presented to Wesley Jones as class leader and for top academic scores in the class and Dustin Edwards for top firearms score. 

SFSC’s BLE occupational certificate program trains cadets to become law enforcement officers in Florida. By successfully completing the program, they are eligible to take the state certification examination to become certified law enforcement officers. The programs runs 770 contact hours or approximately five months full time or approximately 10 months part time. 

For more information about the BLE Academy, visit southflorida.edu or call SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy at 863-784-7285.