8 receive peace officer diplomas
6 academy graduates accept commissions with local law enforcement agencies
Eight graduates of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association (MSA)Training Academy received diplomas for 11 months of work in graduation ceremonies held recently at the Mt. Vernon Art and Recreation Center.
This was the third training program for law enforcement officers offered hosted by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department. Six of the officers received pins for commissions with three different law enforcement agencies.
Billy Bieber and Justin Harper, both of Mt. Vernon, received commissions from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department. Jon Egleston of Monett received commissions from both the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and the Purdy Police Department. Stuart Lombard of Wheaton received a commission from the Barry County Sheriff's Department. Taylor Lombard of Wheaton received a commission from the Cassville Police Department.
Other graduates were Layne Oberbeck of Republic and and Bobby Stone of Fair Grove.
Mick Covington, MSA executive director, reported the MSA has graduated more peace officers than any other academy in the state.
In presenting the keynote address, Lt. Doug Bounous, with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, said he felt this had been the best of the county's three graduating classes for maturity and willingness to learn. He had seen growth in the way the graduates conducted themselves, their teamwork and their knowledge of the law.
"Learn how to deal with people: victims, suspects, the intoxicated, the beaten and the grieving," he said. "There's a wide range of emotions you'll deal with on the job.
"For the families, I charge you to be patient with them. They will come home after seeing and hearing horrific things that no one should have to experience. They probably won't tell you what's going on. Let them know you love them. Pray for them. It's very important to have support at home.
"To the graduates, the Bible says, 'Blessed are the peacemakers.' I believe this is a calling. Be patient with your family. They weren't there with you. Pray for your family. They worry about you. Show your family you love them. Don't ever stop learning and growing your skills. When you stop, it's time to get out.
"I order you to go home at night. We've done all we can do to give you the tools you need. The rest is up to you."
The class valedictorian was Stuart Lombard, and Taylor Lombard was the salutatorian. Egleston was the class president. Johnathan Keithley won the honor graduate designation and the high firearms award.
The graduates stepped forward to receive diplomas and pins from their commissions from representatives of the hiring departments. In turn, the graduates gave certificates of excellence for instruction to Sheriff Brad DeLay, Bounous, and to detective Mike Madewell as firearms instructor.
Covington closed the ceremony, advising the graduates that they now live in a glass house and will be watched. On duty, 95 percent of the people they encounter will be just like family members, good people having a bad day, he said. He encouraged them to have perseverance, respect for fellow citizens, courage and moral courage to do the right thing when no one else is looking. He urged them to visit the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial in Jefferson City, which bears the names of all Missouri officers who fell in the line of duty.
"Your trust [by the public] was won on the blood of those heroes," Covington said. "If you feel you're not having a positive impact, that the ends justify the means, take the badge off. You owe it to them.
"You will do well. You have to. You have joined the ranks of a profession that makes a difference in the world."