Law-enforcement academy graduation filled with pride
Post-Tribune staff report April 28, 2014 4:26PM
Graduates of the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy take an oath Friday during commencement Friday in Hobart. | Sun-Times Media
Crown Point: Ricardo Silva
East Chicago: John Baran Jr., Tomas Garcia Jr., William D. Johnsen, David Moran, A. Michael Phipps, Steven Serna, Jose Velez, Kyle Wagers
Gary: Diego Alvarez, Andrew Germonprez, Keith Hojnicki, Nicretia Jones, Nicholas Sanchez, Curtis Stiles
Griffith: Jeffrey Beck, Aaron Lanting; Hamlet, Richard Simpson
Hammond: Bradley Hasse, Timothy Schultz
Hobart: Jeramey Sandilla, Brian Taylor, Nicholas Vadas
Kouts: Erik Palleson
Lowell: Nicholas Kaczmarczyk, Christopher Thompson
Munster: Omar Padilla
Portage: Kathryn Crook, David Wright.
Updated: May 30, 2014 6:03AM
HOBART — Laughter, tears, applause and pride — lots of pride — filled the gymnasium Friday where 29 police officers from 11 area departments graduated from the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
“You are no longer recruits, you are now certified law enforcement officers,” Patrick Murray, NILEA’s executive director, told the men and women seated in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Hobart’s Police, Courts and Community center, where NILEA is based.
Graduates completed 15 weeks of classes, including physical fitness, firearms and law. They will continue their education with field training at their respective departments.
Class president Jose Velez, an East Chicago officer, reminded his classmates of the tough challenges they faced and the bond they shared and drew laughter when he listed some of the nicknames they’d given each other during their time — “Red,” “Sparkles,” and “That Old Guy in the Back.”
On a more solemn note, he told the group that their new careers represented important traits — integrity, respect, virtue, professionalism and service.
Retired Hammond chief Brian Miller wished the class “the safest and best career you could have,” and said they will eventually encounter most of the experiences portrayed on television shows, just not all in one shift. The job will include car chases, shootouts and fist fights but, “we don’t win them all. And if you do (win), you will spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself.”
After the graduates received their certificates, the floor filled with happy relatives and friends who posed for pictures, shared hugs and congratulations.
Gary Patrolman Nicretia Jones, 33, surrounded by supporters, said she being an officer in her native city has been a goal. “I’ve seen a lot in Gary, I want to make it better,” she said.