By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
Seven officers joined Killeen Police Department's rank and file Friday after being sworn in at a ceremony in the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
It was KPD's 16th cadet class since the department began offering a basic peace officer training course in 2002. The seven graduates also were the eighth class in a row that had a 100 percent pass rate.
Assistant Chief Larry Longwell told the class their graduation was the first of several hurdles the class must surpass before becoming the officers the department hopes they will be. Longwell pointed to the lengthy and valuable careers of several officers present as a goal to which they should aspire.
"The gates are wide open," he said. "It's up to you how you write it."
The graduating officers will now undergo extensive training on the streets. New officers are paired with veterans who test their knowledge of Texas law while showing them how those laws are applied.
Lt. Gary Clark said running its own police academy benefits the department and cadets. Cadets learn to be Killeen police officers as opposed to officers in general.
Clark said before KPD ran its own, officers sent to a regional academy operated by Central Texas College sometimes were not as prepared as the department would like. CTC has since ended its police academy in part because KPD no longer sends cadets there.
The six-month academy also offers continued training to officers. Every two years, officers must undergo 40 hours of continued education.
"Having three officers assigned full-time as instructors at the academy has allowed the department to conduct more in-service training without traveling to other agencies," said Clark.
Clark said area departments may choose to send cadets to KPD's academy. As of this class, the academy only has trained Killeen officers and two Killeen firefighters. Temple Police Department also operates an open academy.
Cadets receive nearly 1,000 hours of training at the academy. During this class extensive training, cadets selected Ronald E. Jackson as class president.
Jackson, 42, said he was treated as the old man of the academy. He decided to become a police officer after retiring from the U.S. Army and making Killeen his home.
"I enjoy being in service," he said. "It was kind of in my blood."
Jackson said he hopes to use his new career as a spring board into working with area youth.
KPD currently has 10 police officer vacancies. In January, three officers will retire. Clark said the department will hire replacements for the next academy in January.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553.
KPD's 16th cadet class graduates
Dusti N. Bradford
Brian K. Goodsby
Ronald E. Jackson, class president
Kevin M. Laudensack
Andrew J. McCatherine, academic leader
Andrew T. Pence II, top gun
Sarah K. White