The Killeen Police Department added 14 new officers to its ranks Tuesday with a graduation ceremony for the newest cadet class.
The class is the 18th graduating class of the department’s police academy and 10th in a row with a 100 percent pass rate — “no small feat,” Lt. Alex Gearhart said.
After a grueling six-month course that involved as many PowerPoint presentations as forced runs and tire flips up hills, the department marked the occasion with officers vowing to defend the Constitution in numerous oaths and a ceremonial pinning of their new badges by loved ones.
“We know that your journey has run the gamut with many highs and lows both physically and emotionally,” City Manager Glenn Morrison said to the graduates. “It is your foundation and your foundation is strong.”
The graduating officers are Jarod Acker, Travis Baker, Sean Doherty, Ricky Hardcastle, Christopher Heeter, Shane Hodyniak, Sarah Hydorn, Heath Jackson, Jo Karge, Michael Lawrence, John Metcalf Jr., Michael Morales, Derrick Townsend and Andrew Van Orsdel.
The new officers will undergo six months of field training partnered with a training officer. Then after more than a year of background checks, tests, classes and hands-on supervision, they will be full-fledged police officers.
The class named Metcalf its president. Metcalf also won the class’s sharp-shooter award and was .003 points behind the top academic performer. That distinction went to Acker.
Metcalf, 25, had an even longer journey to becoming a police officer. With no college courses, he instead joined the police department as a civilian public service officer. He worked there for two years, which earned him enough credits to become a cadet.
“It’s a very nice feeling today,” Metcalf said.
The keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony was Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols. Nichols warned officers that it can take a career to build a reputation as a good officer, but it only takes one instance to ruin a career.
“It is a difficult career, I can tell you as a prosecutor, but it is one of the most fulfilling careers you can choose,” he said.