'Answering the call'

·4 min read

Apr. 24—For the first time in over a year, the Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) held an in-person graduation for their law enforcement basic training graduates.

Their keynote speaker was a very special guest.

On Thursday, April 22, Gov. Andy Beshear greeted the graduates of Class 515 with a socially-distant fist bump as they crossed the stage at the First Baptist Church in Richmond.

"I am honored to be here today to congratulate you and your fellow officers on your accomplishment and to show support for the essential job and the amazing communities you will serve," Beshear said. "All new graduates are now a part of a vital profession. One that is so critical for our country, for our democracy, and each and every one of our communities."

The DOCJT law enforcement basic training consists of 20 weeks packed with 800 hours of knowledge and training.

The graduates of Class 515 began their journey nearly six months ago, Class Leader Larry Jones said.

He spoke of a crisp Sunday morning months ago when those who were about to graduate together, were nothing but strangers.

Soon enough, he said, each of them had formed not an alliance but a bond. Bonds which led to several countless late nights and early morning talks as they supported one another while training side-by-side.

"Now, we've reached a fork in the road," Jones said with a bit of sadness in his voice. "Each of us will say our goodbyes and part ways."

In total, 28 recruits graduated from class 515. Those recruits are as follows: Brandon R. Anderson of the Russellville Police Department, Aubrey M. Carter of the Florence Police Department, Noah B. Collins of the Madisonville Police Department, Ryan L. Downs of the Nelson Co. Sheriff's Office, Britton M. Elmore of the Elizabethtown Police Department, Jonathan C. Hale of the Harrodsburg Police Department, Joshua K. Hardin of the Glasgow Police Department, Tyler J. Hatfield of the Newport Police Department, James W. Hauensten of the Newport Police Department, Dalton T. Hayes of the Montgomery Co. Sheriff's Office, Tyler R. Jackson of the Florence Police Department, Christopher T. Jewell of the Marion Co. Sheriff's Office, Ethan C. Jones of the Elizabethtown Police Department, Larry R. Jones of the Graves Co. Sheriff's Office, Cassidy S. Martinez of the Hopkinsville Police Department, Tristen W. Nantz of the Madisonville Police Department, Aaron C. O'Leary of the Madisonville Police Department, Peyton L. Payne of the Elizabeth Police Department, Austin J. Ray of the Danville Police Department, Christopher L. Robinson of the Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office, Jason D. Samples of the Newport Police Department, Dexter G. Seward of the Simpson Co. Sheriff's Office, Branden S. Short of the Mason Co. Sheriff's Office, Quinton A. Smoot of the Maysville Police Department, Corey A. Springfield of the Madisonville Police Department, Tanner V. Tout of the Bath Co. Sheriff's Office, Dallas G. Wills of the Franklin Co. Sheriff's Office and Yeng Xiong of the Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office.

Of these recruits, a few were given awards. Those awards are as follows: Quinton A. Smoot received an award for academic achievement. Christopher L. Robinson received the Coordinator's Award. Christopher T. Jewell received the Outstanding Performance Award for Physical Fitness. Dallas G. Wills received the Most Improved Award for Physical Fitness and Defensive Tactics. Tanner V. Tout and Jason D. Samples received the Firearms Proficiency Award.

Other recruits were awarded class leadership awards. Larry R. Jones was awarded as the class leader. Branden S. Short was awarded as adjutant. Tyler R. Jackson. Austin J. Ray, James W. Hauenstein, and Dalton T. Hayes were awarded as squad leaders. Joshua K. Hardin was awarded an honor code. Ethan C. Jones was awarded as guidon bearer.

"All of you are brave men and women answering the call to put others before yourself," Beshear said. "Thank you for choosing this profession. Thank you for wearing the badge."

"That badge demonstrates a sacred trust. Coveted between you as a public servant and the public that you serve," Nicolai Jilek, DOCJT Commissioner, said of the badges each recruit would be wearing. "Wear it with the dignity and honor it deserves, and the dignity your fellow man deserves."

Jones said he felt sorrow at having to part ways with the graduates he now considers his brothers and sisters. He jokingly said he wished he could form a department with all his fellow members of class 515.

Jones said he wanted to assure every department the graduates were going to, they were getting the "best trained and most up-to-date members of law enforcement in the state of Kentucky."

"Each of you knows the task that lies ahead," Jones said. "You all know it is not going to be an easy one, and it's going to present challenges that are frightening to most. This is where we will have to step up and carry the badge with honor, courage, firmness, and fairness.... To my colleagues, I wish you the best of luck.... Go out and uphold the badge, your oath, and the commonwealth of Kentucky... Step up and face adversity and say, side by side in 515."