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AVON PARK, Fla. — Dec. 14, 2020 —South Florida State College’s (SFSC) Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) Academy BLE Class 264 and the Crossover Academy Class 361 graduated 22 cadets during a ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 9 in the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park.
BLE Class 264 and Crossover Class 361 graduates who received career certificates were Christopher Wingate (class leader), Estefani Galarza (executive officer), Skylar Casian (first squadron leader), Mckenzie Bostick, Joseph Martin, Triston Ragoodial, Raphael Scott, Karon Paulk (second squad leader), Alejandro Gamez, Garrett Green, Jewell Lagunas, Samuel Jacobs (third squad leader), Gloriangeli Calero, Michael Dean, Samuel Jacobs, Johnathan Knight, Matthew Willis, Brady Rogers (fourth squad leader), Ramiro Doval, William Holliday, Horace Nicholson, and Karen Woodham.
Guest speaker for the graduation was Sgt. Wayne Gunn of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department and adjunct faculty for the SFSC Criminal Justice Academy. Addressing the graduates, he said, “It is important to remember that wearing a badge on your chest gives you authority, but it does not give you respect. Respect is not automatically given but it is earned, especially in the streets.”
Gunn spoke about courage. “Although we have trained and tested you mentally and physically, there is one thing we cannot teach: We cannot teach courage. It takes courage to confront a suspect who has committed a serious crime and you’re about to take away their freedom. It takes courage to refrain ourselves in using only the amount of force necessary to control a dangerous situation. It takes courage to protect those who spew hatred toward you, but you still conduct yourself in a respectful way. It takes courage to run toward gunfire when everyone else is running away.
“My hope for you all is that you spend your career protecting the safety of others, that you’re able to make a difference in our community in meaningful ways. Remember to also take care of yourself and your family. Take care of yourself on the streets, watch over one another, and make sure that we all go home to our families at the end of the shift. Serve your community with honor, respect, integrity, and courage.”
During the ceremony, special awards were presented to three of the cadets: Christopher Wingate as class leader, Estefani Galarza for top academics, and Samuel Jacobs for top firearms scores. One cadet who passed away before his graduation was Manuel Calderon. He was given a special tribute and his family was honored with a duplicate of the class flag created by his graduating class.
SFSC’s Basic Law Enforcement career certificate program trains students 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 program runs 770 contact hours or approximately five months full time or approximately 10 months part time.
The Correction to Law Enforcement (Crossover) career certificate program trains currently employed corrections officers to become law enforcement officers in Florida. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the state certification examination to become certified law enforcement officers. The program runs 515 contact hours or approximately 10 months part time.
For more information about either of these programs, visit southflorida.edu or call SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy at 863-784-7285.