ELMIRA - Twelve new law enforcement officers graduated from the Elmira Chemung Regional Law Enforcement Training Center Friday morning in a ceremony held in Elmira College’s Hamilton Hall.
The graduates, who began training at the police academy in April, completed a 24-week training program in late August required of all new police cadets. They are now stationed in field training programs in police agencies around the area, where they hope to advance their careers in law enforcement.
“This is a good group of men and women,” said Mike Dunham, police academy director for this most recent class. “It’s a nice blend of life experience. They came together very well. They took this instruction very seriously, they paid attention, and they excelled.
“It’s one of the best classes we’ve had by far.”
The list of graduates includes Andrew Hodge, Conor Everett and John Everett from the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office; Mathew Brewer, Sean Pesesky, Ryan Marrone, Tristan Hillman and Amari Hadlock from the Elmira Police Department; Brandon Owen and Robert Shepherd from the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office; Jordan Yestremski from the Corning Police Department; and William Keefe from the Horseheads Police Department.
These new officers were asked to complete several courses of study and attain high standards of excellence in multiple areas to graduate from the police academy. That included topics such as law enforcement ethics, physical fitness, firearms training, emergency vehicle operations, defensive tactics and more.
“Pretty much anything you would expect a law officer to do, which is kind of a mixed bag of everything, they received training in,” said Dunham.
The police academy was a demanding endeavor for the cadets, both physically and mentally.
“[The most challenging part of the police academy] was the physical aspect, and then changing your mindset to become a police officer,” said graduate Tristan Hillman, now with the Elmira Police Department. “You have to change the way you think and change the way you act.”
But it was worth it in the end, he said. Entering the law enforcement profession also means joining a large, tightly-knit community.
“Once you finish it, you realize you’re part of a big family, and you know everyone’s got your back,” said Hillman. “I can rely on every one of these guys with my life.”
The ceremony featured Elmira Police Chief Joseph Kane, Chemung County Sheriff William Schrom, Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore and Dunham offering remarks and advice to the graduates as they embark on a career in law enforcement.
Dunham said one of the biggest pieces of advice he offers to his former students is to treat everyone in the community fairly and with respect.
“[My advice to them would be to] keep things in perspective, realize that every call they go on is usually somebody they’re dealing with at their worst,” he said. “Try to remember that and treat people accordingly.”