By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
The 11 graduates of the 94th and final class of Central Texas College's police academy were certified as peace officers Friday.
The graduation marks the end of the only regional police academy offered for certification under the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, which certifies all law enforcement officers in Texas.
Central Texas College announced it was closing the academy in March due to falling revenue. The academy had acted as the sole regional academy under the Central Texas Council of Governments since the 1970s, reports show.
However, declining revenue due in part to the opening of the Killeen Police Department's police academy led officials from CTC to cut the program.
Police Academy Director Hugh C. Anderson III said at the opening of the ceremony it would be the last police academy class.
Though a bittersweet affair for faculty, newly certified peace officers were all smiles.
Scott A. Williams, a janitor for Coryell County who has dreamed of becoming a sheriff's deputy since 1997, said it had been a long and bumpy road for him to get this far. Williams is still one step away from becoming a member of the Coryell County Sheriff's Office. A vacancy must be created before he can become a full-time peace officer, but Williams was happy to graduate the academy.
"It's a dream come true," Williams said. "My whole family is in law enforcement, and it is something that I've always wanted to do."
Williams, 40, won the academy's Top Gun Award for best performance on the shooting range and the Peace Officer Award.
Guest speaker Jack Wallace, an officer with the Harker Heights Police Department, gave the graduation address at the ceremony. Wallace spoke of the differences between enforcing the law and law enforcement.
Wallace said enforcing the law is a small percentage of what an officer does on a day-to-day basis. Officers are often the first medical responders on the scene using life-saving techniques to save a person's life. Officers sometimes notify family members of a tragic loss. They even may help get a cat out of a tree.
"These things aren't enforcing the law, but it is law enforcement," he said. "The list is endless."
Anderson gave officers a final piece of advice.
"Remember to go home at night. That's you're main goal," he said.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.
11 graduate from CTC police academy
Krystal N. Baker, Copperas Cove Police Department
Eugene A. Cuthbert, Harker Heights Police Department
Cody H. Dunn, Harker Heights Police Department
Martin W. Gonzalez, Milam County Sheriff's Office
Jerrod L. Harris, Coryell County Sheriff's Office
Johnny C. King, Harker Heights Police Department
Lisbeth M. Marquez-Soler, Central Texas College Police Department
Kirby B. Ruiz, Coryell County Sheriff's Office
Ronald J. Slay, Copperas Cove Police Department
Kristen A. Smith, Central Texas College Police Department
Scott A. Williams, Coryell County Sheriff's Office