Eleven cadets graduated on May 16 from the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Vance-Granville Community College, in a ceremony held in the Civic Center on Main Campus. After passing the state certification exam, all are authorized to work in any law enforcement agency in North Carolina.
Graduates of VGCC’s 104th BLET class included Jill Nicole McLean of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Spencer Reid Warehime of the Granville County Sheriff’s Office; Shawn Maurice Brown, Jr., of the Henderson Police Department; Alonza Kyle Fitts of the Louisburg College Campus Police Department; Jacob Matthew Gardner, Thomas Sellers Marrow and Joshua Taylor Mills, all of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation; Kevin Wayne Murphy of the Oxford Police Department; Christopher Michael Agamaite of the Roxboro Police Department; Mark Donald McNamara of the San Jose (California) Police Department; and Kirk Richardson of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
The ceremony began with a presentation of colors by students from the ROTC program at Northern Vance High School, and the singing of the national anthem by NVHS student Jaylen Webb.
In welcoming remarks, Dr. Angela Ballentine, VGCC’s vice president of academic affairs, thanked the many leaders from local and state law enforcement agencies in attendance for partnering with the college. “We are honored to work with you, and we thank you for supporting our cadets, providing many of our instructors, and hiring our graduates, as together, we promote increased safety and quality of life for the communities we serve,” Ballentine told the law enforcement representatives. “All of today’s graduates are either employed or have at least accepted conditional job offers from law enforcement agencies.” She congratulated the graduates on successfully completing the rigorous, 667-hour training program and encouraged them to continue their education. “I wish you success and safety as you protect and serve all of us,” Ballentine added.
Speaking as leader of the class, Cadet Jill McLean thanked the many instructors who had trained them, as well as the family members and friends who were there to support the graduates. “These past four months have flown by,” McLean reflected. “This class has taught us a lot about ourselves and what it takes to do this job. I could not have asked for a better group of guys to take on BLET with. We are a ‘family’ of eleven. These guys have made my job as class leader extremely easy.”
Graduates selected Sgt. Christopher Dickerson of the Roxboro Police Department, one of their instructors, to serve as their featured speaker. He is a 2006 graduate of the VGCC BLET program. “This profession is the greatest profession in the world,” Dickerson said of law enforcement. He noted that in 2016, a Gallup poll found that Americans had a higher opinion of their local police than in any survey since 1967. Dickerson recalled, “I asked you why you wanted to be a police officer, as I do in every class. I heard ‘I want to help my community’ or ‘I want to make my family proud.’ Not a single one gave a selfish response, and that’s why you’re here today.”
He asked the graduates to “remember your drive and what put you in this class” and “never forget your first badge. By pinning that badge on your chest, you have joined the largest family in the entire world.”
Andrea Hyson, the training program coordinator, and instructor Glen Boyd presented awards to the top students in the class in three categories. Murphy won the “Top Gun” Award for having the highest accuracy score in firearms qualification. Fitts earned the Physical Fitness Award for scoring highest in the various fitness tests the cadets undergo during physical training. McLean took home the Academic Achievement Award for having the top grade average in the written tests each cadet must pass.
For more information on the BLET program, contact Hyson at email@example.com.