PARK HILLS – Mineral Area College students of the 1,000 Hour Law Enforcement Academy Class 13-88 walked through their program’s commencement ceremony held at the community college’s Fine Arts Theatre May 15.
After MAC Vice President of College Affairs Gil Kennon welcomed everyone to the ceremony, Chief Rick Baker, Farmington Police Department’s chief law enforcement officer, gave the keynote speech. Chief Baker began as a patrol man with Farmington Police Department in January 1983 after receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from the University of Central Missouri in May 1982. He was promoted to sergeant in charge of night shift in 1987, and then in 1989, Chief Baker was assigned to the detective unit as a detective sergeant. Baker was sworn in as Farmington’s chief of police on Dec.4, 1998, and has been a member of the Farmington Police Department for over 31 years. Baker was chosen to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., in 1997, graduating from the 190th session. Baker has retained the chief’s position with Farmington Police Department for 14 years. He is currently the chairman of the CIT Council of St. Francois County and is a member of the Mineral Area College Law Enforcement Academy Advisory Committee.
“Over your career, you’ll find laws change, new laws are introduced, and there are changes in philosophy, equipment, and tactics. It’s vital to stay up to date in everything by continuing your education,” he said.
Baker also told the graduates to expect to go above and beyond in the day-to-day of the job. “It’s not all about chasing the bad guy, making an arrest or giving a guy a ticket. It’s about administering first aid to a child, giving tours of the station to a group of students, wearing the McGruff Crime Dog suit – which is very hot, by the way—or giving a speech to a community group, answering a 5-year-old’s questions about what’s on your belt, or delivering a death notification to a family,” he said. “Notice, none of these things has anything to do with enforcing the law. But all of them have everything to do with the job.”
Class President Bryan Berg addressed his classmates, saying, “We started out learning each other’s names on our name tags, but now, at the end of nine months, we not only know each other’s names, we have nicknames….The last nine months sometimes seemed like an eternity, but we have so many people to thank, and I’m proud of every one of my classmates who overcame the obstacles placed before us.”
Those students honored were: Bryan Berg, Bonne Terre; Abigail Brewer, Tiff; Kelly Burch, Farmington; Kyle Burt, Bonne Terre; Courtney Christian, Tiff; Dustin Edwards, Farmington; Lacey Elkins, Viburnum; Dustin Etherton, Gerald; Brandon Frazer, Bonne Terre; Devin Hattenhauer, Ste. Genevieve; Robert James Jr., Bonne Terre; Jeff Kostedt, Farmington; Kimberly Madonna, Bonne Terre; Terry Moreland, Perryville; Andrea Patterson, Park Hills; Lance Pippin, Festus; Kaven Roney, Farmington; Kyle Underwood, Park Hills; Justin Wheelis, De Soto; Ashley White, Fredericktown.
A number of awards were given out. The Director’s Award was given to Berg, and Brewer was Valedictorian. The Triplett Award was given to Edwards. Perfect Attendance was given to Burt, Pippin, Roney, Underwood and White. Defensive Tactics awards were given to Hattenhauer, Edwards and Frazer. Patrol Rifle Award was given to Moreland, Handgun to Burt, Shotgun to Berg. Berg also was recognized for Driving Training. Academic Achievement awards were given to Berg, Brewer, Burch, Burt, Christian, Edwards, Etherton, Kostedt, Moreland, Pippin and Wheelis.
Public Safety Director Mark Potratz presided over the ceremony, LEA Assistant Professor Rich Flotron presented a slideshow of class highlights that had been recorded in photography over the course of the program, and Chaplain Darryl Rhodes gave the benediction.