by Diane VanDyke
Fifty police cadets of Classes 1303 and 1401graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on July 16 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell—a fitting number as the College celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
FBI Special Agent Scott A. Duffey and District Justice Paul N. Leo, who both teach at the academy, served as the keynote speakers.
Duffey told the cadets and audience members the jobs for today’s police officers are 24/7.
“You not only have to combat crime and protect the public, but you need to find innovative ways to reduce crime. . . you must be both proactive and ready to react,” he said.
Leo similarly advised the graduates to think creatively as well as proactively.
“You must think outside the box, not that you will trample any of the rights under the Constitution, but you must realize there are many ways to solve a problem,” he said.
The Valedictorian for Class 1303, Lt. David Vernacchio, reminded his classmates about three important concepts for all police officers to remember: professionalism, integrity and family.
The Valedictorian for Class 1401, Joshua Bills cited Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” drawing a comparison that the life of a police officer is often like “the road less traveled—and that makes all the difference.”
Academy Deputy Director Jude T. McKenna presented the James R. Miller Marksmanship Awards to Staff Sergeant Steven Bauman (1303) and to Christopher Sheffer (1401) and the Spirit of Distinction Awards to Josh Taormino (1303) and Sergeant Brendan O’Connor (1401).
During the ceremony, Karen and John McGowan IV presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,500 to Lauren Hart, North Wales. The scholarship honors East Norriton Police Chief John McGowan, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010.
Hart, 23, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Delaware Valley College and then enrolled at the Police Academy. She has done internships with the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, Upper Dublin Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security. She started her new job as an officer with the Whitemarsh Township Police Department on July 21.
Director Frank Williar, who has led the academy since 2005, congratulated the new graduates saying, “No matter how many times I stand here, I find myself awed and even humbled by the quality of the graduates. You have done yourselves and us proud.”
The 33 graduates of Class 1401, who attended the 22-week full-time program, are Joshua Bills (Pocono Summit, Pa.), Eric Blood (Philadelphia), Andrew Burrows (Doylestown), Ralph Burrows (Bellingham, Wash.), Raymond Clayton (Philadelphia), Brett Cortis (Boyertown), Kyle Crawford (Collegeville), Thomasz Czarnuszewicz (Yardley), Peter Gubicza (Holland, Pa.), Elliott Guffey (Royersford), Justin Harris (Philadelphia), Lauren Hart (North Wales), Justin Johnson (Harleysville), Kevin Junod (Glenside), William Kane (Harleysville), Matthew Maciejewski (Buffalo, New York), Kevin Marvill (Ambler), Greg Meinhardt (Harleysville), Lauren Mergen (Harleysville), Brendan O’Connor (Conshohocken), Nick Ratschof (Southampton), Imran Raza (Warrington), Shaun Roberts (Fallsington, Pa.), Erich Rumsey (Doylestown), Gregory Sedgwick (East Norriton), Christopher Sheffer (Bridgeport), Robert Steck (Warminster), Adam Szewczyk (Lansdale), Vincenzo Tucciarone (Perkasie), Zachary Waltman (Feasterville), Douglas Wang (Levittown), Greg Waters (Churchville) and Joel Williams (Horsham).
The 17 graduates of Class 1303, who attended the 42-week, part-time evening program, are Brian Armstrong (Lansdale), Steven Bauman (Sellersville), Michael Cantrell (King of Prussia), Albert Chan (Philadelphia), Carlito Cortez (Richboro, Pa.), Brad Craig (Conshohocken), Anthony Long (Bethlehem), Lora Martin (Bethlehem), Brandon Martinez (Philadelphia), Jonathan Matthews (Horsham), Randall Pompei (Quakertown), Brittany Rosenfeld (Hatfield), Joshua Samuels (Quakertown), Alana Stanziano (Harleysville), Josh Taormino (San Jose, Calif.), Michelle Williamson (Levittown) and David Vernacchio (West Norriton).
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 3,800 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.