(Bottom row L-R) Jonathan Saldana, Izanel De La Cruz, Gilberto Ibarra, Jose Pargas Sr., Daniel Harris, Victoria Lopez, Jesse D. Casillas, Yaneth Rivera, Johnny Hernandez. (Second Row L-R) Coordinator Mike Leavene, Academy Secretary Teresa H. Zamarripa, Rodolfo Ramirez, Leonardo Sada, Roberto Gutierrez, Jose Armando Reyes, Jesus Vasquez, Jesus Alejandro, Jeremy Ruiz, Richard C. Moore, Romaldo Ramirez, academy instructor Kara A. Lands. (Top Row L-R) Jose Gomez, Carlos Espinoza, Beco Diaz, Daniel Villarreal, Antonio Rios, Reyes Leal, Albert Salazar, David Castillo, Francisco Balvantin Jr.
A total of 27 cadets received certificates of completion during spring graduation ceremonies for the Middle Rio Grande Law Enforcement Academy at SWTJC.
The ceremonies were held Friday, May 30, in the Matthew’s Student Center Ballroom on the SWTJC Uvalde campus.
Alpha Class graduates include Jesus R. Alejandro, Francisco Balvantin, Jr., Jesse D. Casillas, David Castillo, III, Izanel De La Cruz, and Beco M. Diaz, Carlos M. Espinoza, Jose M. Gomez, Roberto R. Gutierrez, Jr., Daniel O. Harris, Juan J. Hernandez, Gilberto F. Ibarra, Reyes Leal, III, Victoria Ann Lopez and Richard C. Moore.
Also earning their certificate of completion are Joe M. Pargas, Sr., Rodolfo Ramirez, III, Romaldo Ramirez, Jose A. Reyes, Antonio Rios, III, Yaneth S. Rivera, Jeremy I. Ruiz, Leonardo J. Sada, Albert Salazar, Jonathan D. Saldana, Jesus A. Vasquez, III and Daniel Villarreal.
According to academy coordinator Mike Leavene, all graduating cadets passed the state-licensing exam of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). Class average on the exam was 87.
“For these 27 graduating cadets, it has been a long, challenging and eventful 18 weeks,” Leavene said. “They trained harder than many of them ever knew they could. To all of our cadets graduating today I say -- well done, well done.”
SWTJC President Dr. Hector Gonzales welcomed those attending the ceremony and commended the cadets’ families for supporting the graduates. “These cadets could not have succeeded without your support and I commend you for all the sacrifices that have had to made,” Dr. Gonzales said.
Special Assistant to the President, Dr. Blaine Bennett also congratulated the graduates and commended academy coordinator Mike Leavene and his staff for their work.
Zavala County Sheriff’s Deputy John Simpson, Jr., a 2011 graduate of the Middle Rio Grande Law Enforcement Academy, was the guest speaker at this spring’s academy graduation.
Simpson pointed out to the graduates; being a police officer is more than enforcing the law.
“When you accept your first job offer you aren’t just agreeing to write tickets and arrest drunks.” Simpson said. “You are agreeing to be a role model, a mediator, a dog catcher, a crossing guard, a marriage counselor, a teacher, a tire changer, a nurse, and even a therapist.”
Class president Gilberto F. Ibarra also spoke, urging his fellow graduates to “be professional and always do the right thing.”
Cadet Beco Diaz presented plaques of appreciation to academy coordinator Leavene and instructor Kara Lands.
Prior to the presentation of certificates, top graduates were recognized for excelling in various aspects of the 700-hour academy.
Reyes Leal, III was class valedictorian, while Izanel De La Cruz and Jose M. Gomez had the high score of 92 on the state exam.
Franciso Balvantin, Jr., received the award for high qualification score in firearms.
David Castillo, III received awards for high qualification score in the driving course and Rodolfo Ramirez, III received awards for best physical fitness test score.
Jeremy Ruiz received an award for high qualification score in mechanics of arrest.
A special gift of appreciation was presented to Mike Leavene, who was named acting coordinator in 2011 and is retiring after 4 years with the academy and over 40 years in law enforcement.
Romelia Aranda, dean of workforce education, read the names of all graduates. President Gonzales, special assistant to the president Bennett and Criminal Justice Department Chair, JJ Suarez assisted in the presentation of certificates of completion to all members of the class.
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