by Diane VanDyke
Thirty-three police cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on March 21 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, Central Campus, Blue Bell.
The graduates of Class 1104 included Chad Archer (Gilbertsville), Sgt. Joe Augustine (Chichester), Joe Bohrer (Cheltenham), Andrew Cikanovich (Conshohocken), Daniel Crozier (Levittown), Sgt. Jonathan Ezzo (Blue Bell), Ray Finizio (Maple Shade, N.J.), Richard Gensler (Holland), John Gibson (Doylestown), Kimberly Giovinco (Norristown), Zachary Goetter (Lansdale), Christian Hamilton (Phoenixville), Stephen Hershey (Collegeville), Arthur Hirsch (Croydon), Sgt. John Horgan (Lansdale), Carolyn Hunt (Havertown), Lt. Christopher Johnson (Ambler), Paul Johnson (Warminster), Corey Maitz (Doylestown), Eric Mercer (North Wales), SSgt. Andrew Monaghan (Hatfield), SSgt. Cliff Prescott (Ardmore), Cpl. Maureen Rae (Jenkintown), John Rappold (Honeybrook), Sara Rouse (Bristol), Cpl. John Rushin (Mt. Pocono), Matthew Ryan (Cazenovia, N.Y.), Nathan Scott (Royersford), Anthony Shearer (Port Royal), Shayne Smith (Norristown), Andrew Summers (Perkasie), Cpl. Nick Virnelson (Quakertown), and Gary Zumpano (Horsham).
Cadet Richard Gensler was named Valedictorian, Lt. Christopher Johnson earned the Leadership Award and Cpl. John Rushin earned the Sgt. James R. Miller Marksmanship award. Sgt. John Horgan was recognized with the Spirit of Distinction Award for his teamwork, discipline, dedication and leadership.
During the ceremony, the McGowan family presented the first Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to Richard Gensler.
“You set the bar high,” said John J. McGowan IV, about Gensler’s application essay, which describes how he wants to protect and serve the community as a police officer.
Widow Karen McGowan, accompanied by her son Scott McGowan and his wife Malissa, and son John McGowan IV and his wife Kimberly with their sons Jack and Finn, was pleased to award the scholarship.
“It was a lot of work to raise the money to make this a reality,” she said. “But, dreams come true. I am sure that John is looking down and smiling now.”
Chief McGowan started his law enforcement career in 1974 with the Lower Moreland Police Department. While working there, he graduated from the FBI National Academy and earned his master’s degree in Criminal Justice from St. Joseph’s University.
After his retirement in 1992, he became the police chief and public safety director for East Norriton Township, a position he held until June 18, 2010, when he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident.
In addition to his law enforcement career, McGowan was an academic instructor in the Criminal Justice program at Montgomery County Community College. He also served as past president of the Montgomery County Police Chiefs’ Association and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and was instrumental in establishing the Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center.
The ceremony also featured guest speakers 2011 Academy graduate Emily J. Hopkins and FBI Special Agent/Academy Instructor Scott Duffy. Newly appointed Chief County Detective Edmund H. Justice of Montgomery County was also in attendance.
Both Academy Director Frank A. Williar and Deputy Director Charles O. Pritchett praised Class 1104 for their teamwork, dedication and overall stellar performance.
Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken, PA 19428.
The Academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,100 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 96 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Williar, a 1974 Police Academy graduate, was hired as the Academy Director in 2005. The Academy is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission.