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First Class Graduates from Accelerated Law-Enforcement Training Program

June 20, 2008 — The district's newest set of law-enforcement officers will be ready to "protect and serve" starting Sunday, V.I. Police Department officials said Friday at graduation ceremonies in the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
The recruits went through an accelerated 21-week program and finished seven weeks before last year's class did, said Doug Jones, the Police Department's training director. They passed "with flying colors," earning high marks in both the academic and physical aspects of the program, he said.
Out of the 28 recruits, 12 already have degrees in criminal justice and other related fields, said Sgt. Elton Grant, VIPD training supervisor. The lowest average was 83 percent and the highest 100.3 percent, he said. Twenty-two recruits had an average of 90 and above and received academic awards during Friday's ceremony. All recruits were also given medals of appreciation.
"You gave to us, now we're going to give back to you," Grant said as the recruits accepted their awards.
Not all of the recruits will go on to be police officers. Many will also join the ranks of peace and enforcement officers in the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the V.I. Port Authority, the V.I. Waste Management Authority, the V.I. Department of Health, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and the V.I. Lottery. Three recruits will also move on to the V.I. Superior Court Marshals Service.
Before taking their oath of office, the recruits received some words of wisdom from their commanding officers, including Rodney Querrard Sr., chief of the St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island district.
"Be fair and honest with each and every person in this community," Querrard said. "There will be times when your personal philosophy will conflict with those around you. You can't let your personal feelings cloud your judgment. Continue to strive for excellence. Exercise sound judgment, take your job seriously, continue to challenge yourselves and always stay alert."
The group's official duties start Sunday, Querrard said. The ceremony's keynote speaker, retired Captain Vancito Gumbs, told the officers that they should have no "hidden agenda" on the job.
"This is an opportunity for you to serve your community," Gumbs said. "It is important that you understand your purpose, understand who you are and understand your role as a protector and defender. Your duty is to serve and protect and you must do it with courtesy, professionalism and respect."
Gumbs also told the recruits to respect themselves, listen to one another and make sure to keep in touch with the needs of the community.
The 21-week journey wasn't easy, and recruits were challenged during every step of the process, said recruit class president Gregory Penn. Supervising officers tied the recruits together when they first started their training academy until they learned one another's names, he said. They were also tazered, and worked with a medical examiner on a live autopsy.
"I think the instructors enjoyed the torture of the recruits," Penn said. "But we were still standing strong. We went through 20 weeks of an academy and training that made us better. We have indeed become a family. And if anything happened to anyone in this class, it would affect us to the deepest core."
Graduating on Friday were:
Police Department
Brian Bedminster, Nyisha Braithwaite, Marcus Defoe, Richard Dominguez, Ramsey Farrington, Akeel Francis, Rafael Garcia, Celeste George, Jalaunie George, Gary Gumbs, Marilyn Hendricks, Jose D. Medez, Gregory Penn and David Sullivan
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Tavin Gumbs, Evans Jackson, Jason Magras and Gerald Mercer
Superior Court of the Virgin Islands Marshals
Byron Blyden, Oheam Freeman and Jea'von Sasso
V.I. Port Authority
Michelle Aubain and Donnail Demens
V.I. Lottery
Alford Richards Jr. and Trissa Maxwell
V.I. Waste Management Authority
Jarmel Rubaine
V.I. Department of Health
Karen Warner Gonzalez
V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs
Darryl A. Donovan Sr.
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