Posted January 9, 2020
Lorain County communities may soon notice some new faces patrolling their neighborhoods, as 19 new officers completed their training at the Lorain County Community College Police Training Academy.
The college celebrated the graduation of the cadets from the LCCC Police Training Academy on Thursday, January 9 with a ceremony in the Stocker Arts Center Hoke Theatre.
The academy began in 2002 and more than 600 cadets have successfully completed the program, including Thursday’s graduates. The majority of those 600 graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio and several from the most recent class are already working for local departments, LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., said. Six graduating cadets were commissioned by local police departments and the remainder are in the process of being recruited by other local law enforcement. That record of employment is no accident, Ballinger said.
“LCCC is the number one location in Lorain County for first responder training, and we are so proud of all of our police graduates who we now see patrolling our cities. Today’s graduating cadets should feel proud of all they take with them as they join a long tradition of stellar police officers who work diligently to protect us all,” Ballinger said.
The graduation took place on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was acknowledged by Ballinger and by keynote speaker Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Herdman encouraged all in the audience to thank the cadets and the many officers and police chiefs who attended the ceremony for their sacrifice and service. He then addressed the cadets directly with a message of thanks and inspiration.
“Thank you for your decision to enter into the family of brothers and sisters in blue,” Herdman said. “The job of police officer is the ultimate sacrifice, and sacrifice will be part of everything you do. Our nation is what it is today because of the sacrifices, big and small, that you will make every day.”
The academy is led by Commander Rick Thomas, who previously served as the chief of the North Ridgeville Police Department. Thomas praised the group for their perseverance and commitment to become the best police officers possible.
Class president Andrew Deavers congratulated his fellow graduates for completing the intense program, which he said is widely recognized as one of the top police academies in the state. Deavers, from Huron, is an Army veteran who is currently a Captain in the Ohio Army National Guard.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work. Our communities need us to be outstanding and I have every confidence that all the graduates with me today will carry out their duty with excellence,” Deavers said.
Thomas said the class was one of the top performing groups to come through the academy and credited the cadets’ competitive nature and camaraderie for helping the students build their strengths from week to week. The class had several unique qualities that Thomas said will make them memorable for years to come.
For instance, two of the cadets are cousins, Justin and Maverick Weaver, and they completed the program together. Three graduating cadets are military veterans: Deavers, Alycia Kopronica (Army), and Daniel Urbin (Air Force). Seventeen of the 19 cadets had college credits when they entered the program, including eight cadets with bachelor’s degrees and five cadets with associate degrees. Upon completion of the police academy, all cadets were awarded 36 hours of LCCC credits.
Thomas presented several awards for the top achieving students several categories.
Terry A. Lepisto, Jr., from North Olmsted, was awarded the James Kerstetter Top Driver Award. Sergeant Kerstetter was an Elyria Police Officer who was shot and killed while on duty in 2010. The award was presented to Lepisto by Kerstetter’s parents.
Nigel McMillion, from Oberlin, was awarded the Top Academic Award. McMillion maintained a near-perfect academic score throughout the program.
Frankie J. Smith, from Brook Park, was awarded the Kenny Valez Top Athlete Award. State Trooper Kenny Velez was struck and killed during a traffic stop in 2016. Velez’s mother, Anna, presented the award.
Deavers received the Top Gun award for best marks on the shooting range.
Jonathan J. Mehm, from Lakewood, was awarded the Commander Award. Thomas presented Mehm with the award, which recognizes outstanding cadets who show excellence in all areas of training.
As the cadets begin their careers in law enforcement, Ballinger encouraged them to keep a close connection to their community college.
“While your time on campus as cadets is coming to a close, the bond you all share with each other will always be with you – and you will always be part of our LCCC family,” Ballinger said.
For more information about the LCCC Police Training Academy, visit http://www.lorainccc.edu/police.
Graduates, in alphabetical order
1. Andrew Franklin Deavers, Huron-Class President/Veteran-US Army
2. Domenic Marion Fleming, Columbia Station
3. Colty Dewayne Hersh, Elyria
4. Nathaniel Dreyton Inal, North Ridgeville -Commissioned by North Ridgeville Police Department
5. Narcisco Inchaurregui, Lorain – Commissioned by Lorain Police Department
6. Austin Steven Kohler, Avon Lake -Class Vice President
7. Alycia Marie Kopronica, Lorain – Class Secretary & Treasurer/Veteran-US Army
8. Terry Alan Lepisto Jr., North Olmsted
9. Thomas Vincent McGervey, Cleveland
10. Nigel Brej McMillion, Oberlin – Commissioned by Oberlin Police Department
11. Jonathan Joseph Mehm, Lakewood- Commissioned by Brook Park Police Department
12. Nicholas Frederick Rennette, Avon – Commissioned by Avon Police Department
13. Frankie John Smith, Brook Park – Commissioned by Brook Park Police Department
14. Daniel Robert Urbin, Avon Lake -Veteran-US Air Force
15. Pedro Juan Villalongo Reyes, Lorain
16. Justin Mark Weaver, Elyria
17. Maverick Mahlon Weaver, Elyria
18. Austin James White, Sheffield Village
19. Joseph Francis Wojciak, Sheffield Lake