The Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy graduated 11 officers Sunday during a ceremony at River Bend Ranch.
The academy produced five new officers for Durango Police Department, two deputies for Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, two for La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, one for Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office and an officer for the Pagosa Springs Police Department.
The event featured multiple speakers who spoke about trials and tribulations of what it means to serve the public as a law enforcement officer.
The Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy graduated 11 officers Sunday, including:
- Adam Coleman (Durango Police Department)
- Jessie Heerdt (Durango Police Department)
- Jarrod Jewell (Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office)
- Garret Klein (Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office)
- Rebecca Lambert (Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office)
- Zoe Preskorn (Durango Police Department)
- Michelle Raven (La Plata County Sheriff’s Office)
- Benjamin Rupp (Durango Police Department)
- Branson Smith (Pagosa Springs Police Department)
- Sydney Walters (Durango Police Department)
- Travis Woehrel (La Plata County Sheriff’s Office)
“Our ranks must be filled with unquestionable honor and integrity,” said graduate Benjamin Rupp in his cadet sergent address. “A peace officer is not a brutal hand of justice but a protector, a social worker, a mediator, your counselor or whatever is required in the moment.”
Rupp will be serving for the Durango Police Department. He touched on the realities police officers must face and the scrutiny they can face for their decisions.
“America is not a geographic location but a wide beautiful idea,” he said. “It’s an idea different in every mind. It’s a melting pot of beliefs and cultures. Fifty states composed of every race, creed and color.”
The commencement speaker was Archuleta County Sheriff Mike Le Roux. Le Roux said it is important for people to pursue a career they are passionate about.
He said several unforeseen circumstances forced him to pursue different paths, and that’s when he found his passion for law enforcement.
“I identified myself only for my skills and activity instead of also through my attributes,” Le Roux said.
He said having a skill is a person’s ability to use their knowledge effectively but having attributes are what were behind the skills.
“For example, an athlete that has to swim, bike and ride 320 miles in a race needs to learn the skills and techniques, and superficially that feels like successfully conquering those skills wins you the race,” Le Roux said. ” But actually, it was the attributes behind the skills that were successful, like discipline and perseverance.”
He said it is important for the graduates to take what they learned at the academy and evaluate what skills they have and what attributes lead to them.
For graduate Rebecca Lambert, she had always wanted to help people, and that’s why she joined the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office. The 36-year-old said it was a different feeling knowing she would no longer be in a group with her fellow graduates but would now be working on her own.
She wanted to serve her community, and found the best way to do that was to become a sheriff’s deputy.
She added that Southwest Colorado is an area that respects law enforcement officers and that was another reason why she wanted to become an officer.