The Edmond Sun

April 8, 2013

Edmond welcomes newest police officers

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — They entered the Edmond Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting space as cadets and emerged as duly sworn police officers.

Five new officers completed the Edmond Police Department’s third 19-week in-house academy. They were sworn in during Friday evening’s graduation ceremony and are hitting city streets, taking the next step in their career as an Edmond Police officer.

Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said the department’s authorized overall strength was 116 sworn personnel — officers, sergeants, lieutenants, etc.

“We think we have a very special class,” Police Chief Bob Ricks said. “In some ways, we believe this is the best prepared class that we’ve ever been able to produce.”

The process is a struggle but the new cops have persevered through that struggle and matured, Ricks said. He spoke about each of the new officers:

• Chris Brown is a former Lawton Police officer who received a sociology degree from the University of Oklahoma. Ricks said he has been described as being highly intelligent, very determined and resilient;

• Jason Albright is a Santa Fe High School graduate who earned a biology degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. Ricks said he was working as a personal trainer before becoming a police officer. Ricks said he has been described as a leader, smart and well-rounded;

• Brenton Brown, earned a degree in religious studies and an MBA from Oklahoma Christian. Ricks said he was voted class leader by his peers. He is considered by police trainers to be a consummate professional;

• Torrey Rowe, the first female academy graduate, earned a criminal justice degree from UCO. She was a jailer at the Oklahoma County jail. Ricks said Rowe is a determined, hard worker who made department trainers proud.

• Micah Yost, originally from Alaska, also came here to attend OC. He is a lieutenant in the Army National Guard, served in combat operations in Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star. Ricks said he is described as being very consistent, good under stress, rock solid.

Ricks, a public servant for more than 40 years, imparted some wisdom, reminding the cadets that the department’s motto is “trustworthy service,” part of its connection to a special community. Being an officer in Edmond also comes with special responsibility, Ricks said.

There are times when what officers face can be overwhelming, but they are drawn to the job because they can make a difference in the world, Ricks said. Officers are public servants, paid by taxpayers and charged with treating all the same with dignity and respect, Ricks said.

Being an officer is at times extremely stressful and keeping physically fit helps manage stress and in an officer’s on-the-job performance, Ricks said. He said he knows officers who were wounded and managed to stay alive in part due to being physically fit. Officers are also trained how to protect themselves as well, he said.

Ricks also discussed the importance of ethics and making good choices. Dishonoring the badge is bad for the officer, bad for the department and can be bad for the city, Ricks said, noting he had no indication of reason to worry related to the cadets.

“No matter what happens you maintain your honor, regardless of the temptation,” Ricks said. “You will have temptations out there.”

After members of the audience viewed a video of the academy, which included when the cadets got to experience what it feels like to be on the wrong end of a stun gun, they heard from Police Sgt. Jeff Richardson, coordinator of the departmet’s in-house academy.

Richardson talked about the academy tradition of planting a flag at the training site for officers killed in the line of duty since the first day. There were 47 crosses in the ground, not counting an officer killed Thursday in Mississippi while interviewing a murder suspect, Richardson said.

Every piece of equipment that’s on an officer’s belt — items representing 92 hours of training alone — the cadets had to earn, Richardson said. Edmond has its own academy because the department goes above and beyond state requirements, he said. They had a total of 760 hours worth of training.

“The basics aren’t good enough,” Richardson said.

Scenario-based training is the best way to get cadets to understand and grasp concepts, Richardson said. The trainers try to make things as real as possible he said. Edmond teaches more blocks of ethics instruction than they would elsewhere, he said.

The cadets also had to pass strenuous background checks, psychological tests and fitness tests. They took 25 written exams and quizzes and had a 96 class average, Richardson said. The cadets were measured by their own goals and far exceeded them, he said.

Starting pay for the cadets while in the agency’s in-house academy and through the field training program is $43,455 annually. Once they finish field training and are out on their own it will be $44,511 annually. | 341-2121, ext. 108