AVON PARK — South Florida State College’s (SFSC) Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) Academy Class 268 graduated 18 cadets during a ceremony on Friday, June 3 in the University Center Auditorium on the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park.
BLE Class 268 graduates who received career certificates were: Owen Skinner (class leader), Yeider Bello Jr., Julian M. Clemente, Brian R. Davis, Blanca Guereca (of Okeechobee), Christian A. Hollingsworth, Jayme Keefe, Russell C. Long Jr., Makayla A. McManus, Nicole M. Peana, Andrew Perez, Veronica Reyes Sanchez, Michael Romero Perez, Emilio J. Roque, Hector J. Santana Jr., Austin Taylor, Jeremy Williams, and Christopher A. Winski.
Guest speaker for the graduation was Deputy Luis Pratts-Martinez of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and adjunct instructor for SFSC since 2015. Addressing the cadets, he said, “In this profession, you must be a counselor, a mediator, and more. One minute, you’ll be helping an elderly person get home, the next you’ll probably be fighting for your life or trying to save somebody else’s life. I hope that we have given you the stepping stones to deal with these situations. This is a profession that’s always evolving. You need to evolve as well. Set goals and educate yourself to reach those goals. In closing, family and friends, please provide your loved ones a place where they can decompress at the end of their shift and have an open line of communication. This will help with their mental well-being. Class 268, remember this: You’re going to professionally represent yourself, your agency, and law enforcement professionals throughout this great state and nation. Always step with your best foot forward. Thank you for making me part of your lives, and I hope to be able to work with all of you in the future.”
During the ceremony, special awards were presented to three of the cadets: Owen Skinner as class leader, Brian Davis for top academics, and Hector Santana for top firearms scores.
Skinner, class leader, offered parting words to the graduates: “Graduation is far from the end of the road. As we continue with our careers and education, we will continue to face many hurdles on our road to success. Once we leave here, I ask that you continue to push yourselves not only physically but mentally as well. Never stop learning, never stop getting stronger and faster and always strive to leave a positive impression on the lives of the people you interact with from this point on. We should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. This profession is not for everyone. It takes a courageous and noble person to want to do this for a living and for that I applaud you. We’ve all grown exponentially since the beginning of the class. We went from believing that law enforcement was about being in high speed pursuits and foot chases to actually understanding that law enforcement is about maintaining a positive relationship in the community and helping people when they’re at the worse points in their lives. Never forget the things we learned and always be there for one another.”
SFSC’s Basic Law Enforcement career certificate program trains students to become law enforcement officers in Florida. By successfully completing the program, they are eligible to take the state certification examination to become certified law enforcement officers. The program runs 770 contact hours or approximately five months full-time or approximately 10 months part-time.
For more information about this program, visit southflorida.edu or call SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy at 863-784-7285.