by Alana J. Mauger
Thirty-four cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy Class 1304 on March 26 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.
Academy alumnus Wayne T. Johnson, Deputy Sheriff with Chester County Sherriff’s Department, sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony, followed by a moment of reflection from Director of Criminal Justice & Fire Science Programs Benn Prybutok. The Philadelphia Police Department Honor Guard and the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band led the procession.
Patrol Commander Darren Nyce from Upper Dublin Township Police Department was selected by class 1304 to give the keynote address, during which he stressed the importance of preparation.
“Prepare for opportunity, [so that you’re] ready for opportunity when it comes. Being prepared to do the right thing at the right moment takes tremendous heart, courage and perseverance, and, at times, great sacrifice,” shared Nyce, who is an alumnus of the Academy as well as an instructor.
Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., County Deputy Chief Detective Samuel Gallen, and County Coordinator of School Safety Steven A. Beck were also in attendance, along with representatives from Tredyffrin, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland and Whitpain police departments and the FBI.
Earning the highest GPA in his class, Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale, offered remarks on behalf of the graduates.
“I think love is probably the most important thing, not only in police work but in life in general,” he shared. “It’s about community policing and how you interact with the people around you. Everyone is someone’s mother, someone’s brother. I think it’s important that we remember that golden rule—that we should treat people the way we would want our families treated.”
Academy Director Frank Williar presented Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia, with the Platoon Commander Award, describing her as “a breath of fresh air.” Stevens, who is now an officer with the Upper Darby Police Department, then ceremonially handed Academy command over to Class 1401 Cadet Lt. Andrew Burrows, Doylestown.
Williar also presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J., adding that the award goes to “the MVP of the group; to an individual whose personality is instrumental in making the class what it is.”
Stevens presented the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award to Eric Meoli, Lansdale. The award is presented in memory of Upper Dublin Police Sergeant Jim Miller, who died in an automobile accident while on duty in 2004.
During the ceremony, members of the McGowan family—Karen and her sons Scott and John McGowan IV, presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,500 to Robert Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove. The scholarship honors the late East Norriton Police Chief John McGowan, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. Wiley thanked the McGowan family for the honor, adding that he will use the scholarship to continue his education in MCCC’s Criminal Justice program in the fall.
Cadets from class 1304 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday for 22 weeks. Graduates include Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J.; Ryan Benner, Drexel Hill; Steve Berg, Levittown; Cadet Sgt. Andrew Brown, Exton; Cadet Sgt. Michael Cabry, Coatesville; Michael Carlson, Elkins Park; Liz Cartwright, Telford; Timothy Clark, Abington; Amber Culton, Quakertown; Zachary Danowski, Skippack; Kevin Deegan, Downington; James Falatovich, Birdsboro; Cadet SSgt. Evan Flora, Collegeville; Jarett Gordon, Collegeville; Patrick Halcovage, Hatfield; Jonathan Huber, Souderton; Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale; Patrick Kitchenman, Levittown; Cadet Cpl. John Kreuer, Ephrata; Kevin Lowry, Willow Grove; Brett Mackow, Green Lane; Eric Meoli, Lansdale; Jay Nakahara, Allentown; Nicholas O’Connor, Conshohocken; David Pagan, Philadelphia; Stephen Romanic, Coopersburg; Cadet SSgt. David Rosenblit, Philadelphia; Cadet Sgt. Nicholas Ruud, Doylestown; Kathleen Ryan, Horsham; Alex Sansone, Huntingdon Valley; Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia; Ryan Umberger, Bristol, Gabriel Wasserman, Ambler; Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove.
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.
The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,500 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.