MLEA Graduates 53 New Officers
At a ceremony this morning, the Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) graduated 53 new officers who will serve 30 different agencies across the state. The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is operated by the Montana Department of Justice, providing basic and advanced training for state, county, city and tribal law enforcement officers throughout the state.
“Law enforcement is not only a noble profession – it’s a changing profession. And necessarily so, as we see additional strains placed upon officers here in America, and even more so for our colleagues dealing with cruel, calculated acts of extremist terrorism,” Attorney General Tim Fox told the graduates. “The education and training that this class received is cutting edge, and is different than what the previous class received, and will be different than what the next class will receive. But as up-to-date and as complete as the training this class has received may be, this is just the beginning of what each of you will learn and experience in your newly chosen vocation as law enforcement professionals.”
Of note, today’s graduating class had more Native American graduates — 13 — than any other basic course in MLEA history. Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Tribe addressed the graduates as part of the event, and a star quilt was presented to Academy officials from the Tribe.
Additionally, 16 of today’s graduating officers will receive 18 college credits from Missoula College-UM as part of a partnership announced this fall between the college and MLEA.
Graduate Corey Sample of the Richland County Sheriff’s Office was elected by the class to speak on its behalf during the ceremony. Deputy Sample said, “We have entire careers ahead of us. I would like to encourage each one of you to find a niche that you can fill, a particular avenue of law enforcement that you get excited about and become the expert in. I would encourage you to find a mentor that shares your passion for that area. Find someone who you can learn from, is willing to teach you, and that will help you gain the skills and insight you need to excel.”
Several of the graduates received awards for their performance during training:
• Corey Sample received the Don Williams Award, which is given to the officer elected by the class as Class Representative. The award is given in memory of Thompson Falls Police Chief Don Williams, who was killed in the line of duty in 1974.
• Harlee Barbao received the Health and Physical Fitness Award, which is given to the officer(s) in each class who participates and excels in the Hard Rock Challenge and achieves the class’s best score in the Montana Physical Abilities Test.
• Justin Hader received the Paul Williams Award, which is given to the officer in each class who has provided great inspiration to the staff and student through a display of unwavering dedication and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Chouteau County Sheriff Paul Williams.
• Bryan Axelrod received the Jack Wiseman Award, which is given to the officer in each class who is selected by his peers as the most outstanding officer. The officers of each class select the recipient by pondering two questions: 1) If you were a law enforcement agency administrator, who would you most want to hire? 2) If it were 2:00 am and things were going bad quickly, who would you most want to know was coming to help you? The award is given in tribute to Jack Wiseman, who served as a training officer and commander at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 22 years.
• Bryan Axelrod also received the Joe May Award, which is given to the office in each class who displays exceptional leadership and an incredible sense of motivation. The award is given in honor of the late Joe May, one of the people credited with the conception and creation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
• Jacob Ahmann received the Glenn Janes Award, which is given to the student in each class who demonstrates the highest level of proficiency in the Police Vehicle Operation Course. The award is given in memory of the late Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Glenn Janes, who served as a driving instructor at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
• Sean Evans received the Jimmy Kaaro award, which is given to the officer who achieves the highest level of academic standing in each class. The award is given in honor of retired Fergus County Sheriff Jimmy Kaaro.
• Adam Stergionis received the Josh Rutherford Award, which is given to the officer in each class who achieves the highest scores in defensive tactics. The award is given in memory of Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Josh Rutherford, who was a defensive tactics instructor with the Montana Law Enforcement Academy when he lost his life in the line of duty in 2003.
• Alexi Berger received the Alex Mavity Award, which is given to the student from each class who achieves the highest accumulated score on all academic and skills-based training. The award is given in honor of Billings Police Department Detective Alex Mavity, who was killed in the line of duty in 1989.
• John (Frank) Goings received the Hal Vogelsang Award, which is given to the officer in each class who displays the highest degree of fidelity as determined by the academy staff. The recipient has demonstrated exceptional qualities of honor, pride, integrity, duty, loyalty, and service to not only the class but the staff and entire profession. The award is given in honor of Hal Vogelsang, who served as an FBI special agent for more than 36 years and as a training officer at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 25 years.
• Christopher Etter received the Allen Kimery Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding marksmanship and the class’s highest ranking in firearms training through marksmanship, safety, and tactical proficiency. The award is given in memory of Missoula County Sheriff Deputy Allen Kimery, who was killed in the line of duty in 1984.
Roster of Class #157:
Lorello, Peter Anaconda Deer Lodge Law Enforcement
Gibbs, Shane Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office
Bird Rattler, Ken Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Goings, John (Frank) Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Hoyt, Ryan Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Potts, Coley Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Wolftail, Charles Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Ahmann, Jacob Bozeman Police Department
Barbao, Harlee Bozeman Police Department
Jenkins, Spencer Bozeman Police Department
Gilbert, Anthoney Cascade County Sheriff’s Office
Hader, Justin Cascade County Sheriff’s Office
Birdinground, Isaiah Crow Land Security
DeWitt, Chad Cut Bank Police Department
Gillen, Harrison Dawson County Sheriff’s Office
Inmee, Eneas Flathead Tribal Police Department
Finley, Matthew Flathead Tribal Police Department
Cochran, Constance Fort Belknap Law Enforcement
King, Jake Fort Belknap Law Enforcement
Helgeson, Lex Fort Belknap Law Enforcement
Etter, Christopher Fort Benton Police Department
Larson, Robert Fort Benton Police Department
Grey Bear, Christopher Fort Peck Tribes Law & Justice
Sears, Tucker Fort Peck Tribes Law & Justice
Axelrod, Bryan Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
Caball, Ed Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
White, Corey Golden Valley County Sheriff’s Office
Burgess, Aaron Great Falls Police Department
Duncan, Justin Great Falls Police Department
Hronek, Taylor Great Falls Police Department
Rosteck, Jesse Great Falls Police Department
Stergionis, Adam Great Falls Police Department
Wolf, Jared Great Falls Police Department
Bickford, Justin Laurel Police Department
Esquivel, Federico Lewistown Police Department
Garner, Dallas Liberty County Sheriff’s Office
Brown, Ryan Madison County Sheriff’s Office
Roe, Brad Missoula County Airport Authority
Evans, Sean Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
Orr, Jordan Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
White, Justin Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
Berger, Alexi Missoula Police Department
Griffith, John Missoula Police Department
Billington, Bradley Motor Carrier Services
Brown, Brian Motor Carrier Services
Roush, Adam Park County Sheriff’s Office
Vanderbush, Norman Pondera County Sheriff’s Office
Johnson, Tanner Pre-Service
Sandman, Joseph Pre-Service
Sample, Corey Richland County Sheriff’s Office
Netzer, Miles Sidney Police Department
Tihlarik, Joseph Valley County Sheriff’s Office
Boll, Hunter Whitefish Police Department
Anderson, Bryan Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office