It’s a tough time to be a police officer. At least that’s how Doug Parker, director of the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy, sees it.
“In the past few years, a wave of criticism has swept over law enforcement,” he said. “Change is coming to our profession.”
That change was embodied Saturday in the nine cadets who had just completed 640 hours of training in the past two and a half months and were graduating from the academy. Each graduate also earned 37 college credits, Parker said. The graduation ceremony was held in the auditorium of Escalante Middle School.
Of the nine graduates, four already have jobs: two with La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and two with Archuleta County Sheriffs Office. Three are on the verge of being hired, and two others are in the process, Parker said.
“With any luck, by January, they’re all going to be working,” he said.
The former director of Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy quit at the beginning of this class’ semester, but it is the quality of the students that made the class successful, said former interim director Joe Albo. Albo ran a police academy in Pueblo before the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy asked for his help.
“They pulled together as a team,” he said. “I wish them all the luck in the world, and please be safe.”
Dylaina Gauvey, a sponsored cadet who will work with Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, was a teacher before she decided to be come an officer.
“I always wanted to be in law enforcement because you get to be there for people on their darkest day,” Gauvey said.
Nathan Rambo won both best shooter and best driver in the class. The 37-year-old worked in construction before joining the academy.
“I got into law enforcement to help people, prevent crime and make my town a safer place to live,” Rambo said.
Parker, in his first commencement speech as director of the academy, encouraged cadets to think about who they are. Identity is a huge part of policing, and the collective identity of the profession comes from the decisions individuals make.
“Guardian” was the word he landed on to describe police officers. Protectors and makers of peace, he called them.
“You’re the guardians of our profession,” he said. “It’s not just a profession, it’s a calling.”