Orange County

Police grads move to “greatest job ever”

WESTMINSTER PD Recruit Frani Echavarri stands with her classmates for inspection before Golden West College Criminal Justice graduation ceremonies at Orange Coast College. )Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC)

WESTMINSTER PD Recruit Frani Echavarri stands with her classmates for inspection before Golden West College Criminal Justice graduation ceremonies at Orange Coast College. (Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC)

By Jaimee Lynn Fletcher

As Orange County’s newest law enforcement officers stood at attention on their graduation day, Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy didn’t wish them luck.

Luck, Handy said, isn’t what makes an officer great and it isn’t what keeps them safe on the job.

“Every time I think of people describing excellence as luck I think of one of my favorite quotes by Thomas Jefferson: ‘I believe in luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get,’” he told the audience. “This statement is so true regarding policing.

“The more you put into your own development, the more effort you put into your own training, the more effort you put into the service that you provide, the more successful you will be but, more importantly, the bigger difference you will make.”

The Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center – located on the Golden West College campus in Huntington Beach – on Friday, Sept. 16 graduated 20 new law enforcement officers — Class No. 152 — in a ceremony at Orange Coast College.

For the last six months, the recruits spent thousands of hours learning to become peace officers for agencies across Southern California.

They have submitted to more than 100 tests, 16 hours of ride-alongs and too many pushups and pull-ups to count.

But this is only the beginning of learning how to best serve their communities because they have chosen a career that requires a commitment to being a lifelong student, Handy said.

cops-grad-quote“I really encourage you to look at policing as a craft,” Handy said. “I encourage you to develop your skill set and learn to find solutions to the problems you’re going to encounter in the communities you’re about to serve.”

The profession will come with daily trials, and the officers are entering the profession in what some of the graduation speakers at called the most challenging time for law enforcement in its history.

Despite the national negative rhetoric, many are still answer the call to serve in what Huntington Beach Mayor Jim Katapodis said is “the greatest job ever.”

“For 38 years, I was a law enforcement officer, and I would not have done anything else,” said Katapodis, who is a retired Los Angeles PD sergeant. “I don’t care what people are saying. I don’t care what they do.  Police officers are the greatest protector of citizens everywhere.”

Academy class president Ian MacLeith said he believes his fellow officers are up for the challenge.

“The protesting and killing of police officers occurring all over the country created an urgent sense within us to get out on the streets and do our part,” MacLeith said. “We learned the importance of always doing what is right, following department policy and procedures and knowing the public is always watching us.”

This article was provided to the Orange County Tribune by arrangement with Behind The Badge, a website covering news, events and issues in law enforcement. For more, go to www.behindthebadgeoc.com .

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