Graduation ceremonies for the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Richmond Community College followed eight intense months of class. Nineteen cadets completed the program and received their diplomas Tuesday night at the Cole Auditorium.
Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. told the cadets they will always be referred to as law enforcement officers, even in informal introductions among friends.
“Law enforcement, however, is only three-fourths of the job,” Clemmons said. “You will be called to try to wake someone who has gone to sleep in his home for the last time. You will be the first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency like a heart attack or accident and will administer first aid. That is not enforcing the law, but it is part of law enforcement.”
He reminded graduates they entered this field because they wanted to help people and give back to their communities and to always treat people with fairness and respect.
“When you call on the elderly, they are going to want to talk,” the sheriff said. “Ask them about the pictures on their walls. When you deliver bad news, make sure people have their needs met before you leave them alone. You are graduates of a good program and will make good officers. You’re going to find the thin blue line is a lot thicker than you expected and will be as thick as you make it.”
Hamlet Police Department Detective Lieutenant Gary Carter was challenged with teaching the cadets firearms skills and noted several had never fired a gun before, but they met their goals.
“You are a good group for the law enforcement community to choose from for future employees,” Carter said. “You will be the frontline responders for the city or county you serve. It is a big responsibility. I challenge you to be the best you can be.”
Graduating cadet Steven Blakely of Ellerbe thanked instructors, family, and friends who had sacrificed to get the graduates through the program.
“We have grown strong, faced our fears, and broken through them,” Blakely said. “Back in March, when we began this journey, we were unsure of what we were doing, but once we started the physical training, we acted like a team, because we had to pull each other through it. We bonded on the firing range. We looked out for each other and pushed each other. The one big important lesson you learn in BLET is how to work as a team. I wish you all the best of luck in the future.”
Graduates of the Class of 2012 are Jamorine D. Bowden of Candor; Steven G. Blakley and Heather Lynn Wyatt of Ellerbe; Brian S. Bradley, Chad B. Haywood, and Lee Quick Heaton of Hamlet; Phillip Shane Butler, Phillip Mitchell Lee, Jason Michael Pevey, and Brent Aaron Robinson of Laurinburg; William W. Blanks Jr. of Lumberton; Anthony L. Williams of McColl; Michael Dustin Asbell, Justin Walker Chance, Skyler C. Dover, Joshua Anthony Gilbert, Judge Dalton Lipford, Angel J. Lopez, and Dustin Lee Trenton Morrison of Rockingham.
Each year graduates are recognized for excellence is several areas. BLET Coordinator Chief Billy Kelly presented an award to Heather Wyatt of Ellerbe for having the highest grade point average. She was also voted by her peers and instructors for being the best overall cadet and going beyond what was required. Dalton Lipford of Rockingham received an award for having the best performance on the Police Officers Physical Abilities test. Phillip Butler of Laurinburg received an award for having the best performance on the firing range.
Kelly’s new duties as chief of the Rockingham Police Department have caused him to step down as coordinator of the program. RCC Director of Public Safety presented Kelly a plaque of appreciation for his service to the college and the law enforcement community for helping to begin the program and for his friendship. BLET Assistant Coordinator Scott Waters, Hamlet Police Department Patrol Captain, will step up into the leadership role.
Applications for next year’s class are now available by calling 910-410-1700.