Montana Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 57 New Officers

Montana Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 57 New Officers

At a ceremony this morning, the Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) graduated 57 new officers who will serve various agencies across the state. The Academy is operated by the Montana Department of Justice; it provides basic and advanced training for state, county, city and tribal law enforcement officers throughout the state.

The ceremony took place at the Civic Center in Helena, and included remarks from Attorney General Tim Fox and class representative Joshua Hammond of the Helena Police Department. Montana Supreme Court Justice James Shea administered the oath of office. Due to COVID-19, the number of attendees at the ceremony was limited. The event was livestreamed for the public to watch via the legislature’s video website, and carried by the Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN).

In addressing the class, Attorney General Fox praised the teamwork, resiliency, and commitment of the new law enforcement officers and MLEA staff. Unlike many other law enforcement academies around the country, MLEA’s campus remained open for on-site instruction. Fox said, “I am incredibly impressed by the remarkable team that keeps training operational, positive, and moving forward against a backdrop of campus construction, a pandemic, and national unrest. I am dedicated to ensuring that the Montana Law Enforcement Academy continues to uphold rigorous standards that protect the rights, lives, and property of all during these challenging times.”

In response to the pandemic, Academy staff carefully planned ways to safely accommodate uninterrupted instruction. They rearranged the class schedule significantly to include a combination of distance learning and compressed on-campus instruction time. To accommodate social distancing in the classroom, instructors taught from one classroom while students were placed in multiple classrooms while seated six feet apart. Classroom cameras and monitors were installed to allow for interactive communication. Students were required to wear masks when close contact was unavoidable during training exercises, and underwent regular temperature checks. Sanitation stations were placed in classroom entryways, and students were required to wipe down their classroom tables daily.

Because construction on a new campus dining hall was happening at the same time, dietary staff prepared meals using a mobile kitchen. Socially-distanced, limited numbers of students ate in the gym using disposable plates, cups, and utensils, and were required to sanitize their seat and table when finished.

Several of the graduates received awards for their performance during training:

• Joshua Hammond 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. Hammond also 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.

• Nicholas Wade received the Health and Physical Fitness Award, which is given to the officer who participates and excels in the Hard Rock Challenge and achieves the class’s best score in the Montana Physical Abilities Test.

• Michael Murphy received the Paul Williams Award, which is given to the officer who provided inspiration to the staff and students through a display of unwavering dedication and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Chouteau County Sheriff Paul Williams.

• Benjamin Graupmann received the Jack Wiseman Award, which is given to the officer selected by his/her peers as the most outstanding officer. The officers of each class select the recipient by considering two questions:
1) If you were a law enforcement agency administrator, who would you most want to hire?
2) If it were 2:00 a.m. 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. Graupmann also received the Alex Mavity Award, which is given to the student 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.

• Brandon LaRocque 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 honor of Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Glenn Janes, who served as a driving instructor at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.

• James Marvich received the Joe May Award, which is given to the officer who displays exceptional leadership and 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.

• Derrick Pawlikowski 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.

• Brett Haux received the Hal Vogelsang Award, which is given to the officer who displays the highest degree of fidelity as determined by 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.

• Kaelin Kiesel 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 honor of Missoula County Sheriff Deputy Allen Kimery, who was killed in the line of duty in 1984.

The roster of Class #172 is available here.

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