Graduation gives us all something to celebrate

Published 6:59 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

The pride of the Alabama Department of Corrections Training Academy class of 2014-02’s family and friends was evident Thursday morning as they cheered, smiled and applauded during the ADOC graduation.

With 72 trainees graduating, it is no surprise that more than 100 people visited the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center to support their loved ones. And after watching those men and women take an oath to serve and secure our state prison systems, I found myself just as proud.

I stopped to think about the huge responsibility these graduates spent 12 weeks training for all and of the sacrifices and hard work that must have come with it. I commend them for dedicating 480 hours of training that Deputy Commissioner Wendy Williams, with Women’s Services, described as a long, but rewarding process of exposure to academic classroom work, defensive tactics, firearms, physical conditioning and much more.

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When I considered how many inmates fill our prisons, it’s easy to appreciate the training academy having a graduation rate of 80 percent, with 72 of the 91 trainees getting a step closer to becoming a certified peace officer.

According to ADOC’s website, the department is the largest law enforcement agency in Alabama with approximately 3,000 correctional officers and 1,000 non-uniformed support personnel managing an in-house population of more than 25,000 inmates.

This job opportunity isn’t for everyone. It takes special people to have the strong moral character, honesty, integrity and professionalism needed to complete the duties the job requires.

It also takes someone willing to work long hours, deal with dangerous situations and bear the reality of possibly losing your life to complete their correctional officer responsibilities.

Correctional officers might also have to endure the frustrations of having others not appreciate their hard work, because not everyone is going to respect someone in uniform.

I can tell from the commencement speech Montgomery County Sheriff Department’s Chief Derrick Cunningham delivered Thursday that the trainees have been told time and time again about these hardships and more.

And still they rose to the challenge for their own individual reasons.

No, the entire Dallas County community did not have a relative or friend graduate from ADOC’s training academy Thursday, but we all have something to celebrate.

Congratulations to those with the class of 2014-02, those who graduated before and those who will in the future.

Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do.