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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Ashland’s Own Graduates Police Academy



Police Academy started March 6, 2023, at 7am at North Central State College, for 14 Police cadets. The class graduated on Saturday, August 19th, 2023, with Ashland’s own Casey Benavides being the class speaker, as Family, Friends, and Peers gather to celebrate, on the 3rd floor of the Kehoe Center in Shelby.



North Central State College Police Academy is recognized as a leader in Law Enforcement training. The Academy Commander Brad Copeland oversees the grueling 6 months of training and makes sure the cadets are ready for the street.



Academy Commander Brad Copeland commented on this class, “NCSC Police Academy has graduated another outstanding group of men and women to enter the ranks of law enforcement. The Cadets of BAS23-024 just spent the last 5 1/2 months (804 hrs.) working on the skills and knowledge that will help them protect and serve the citizens of the communities they will spend their careers in.”


“Each and every one of them gave 100% to pass the academy as it is no easy task.” Commander Copeland told me, “Class speaker Casey Benavides summed it up with several well thought out comments, but the one that stands out to me that exemplified the class's commitment to the training and each other was ‘I never heard any classmate refuse to help each other’.”


“I can see why the class chose Casey as their class speaker. His demeanor and ability to communicate with anyone, and humbleness showed that he is truly a ‘good person’ and will do an excellent job as a Deputy with the Ashland County Sheriff's Office.” Commander Copeland continued, “NCSC is extremely proud of the graduates of our Police Academy. Cadets of NCSC serve with law enforcement agencies all over Ohio. I can't begin to Thank the agencies enough within the surrounding communities that we have partnered with, that have hired our graduates.”


North Central State College Program Coordinator – Instructor Dave Koepke commented, “We are very proud of the determination of our graduates and pleased that they will be ready to start careers at agencies in all the counties of our North Central State College Service area. This is a great time to start a law enforcement career as help is needed at most agencies, and our graduates demonstrated that they are ready to step in and serve our communities.”


Ashland County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff E. Wayne Risner remarked, “We are extremely proud of Casey on this accomplishment. He worked extremely hard to complete this very dynamic and challenging Police academy. I’m certainly looking forward to swearing Deputy Benavides in as a certified Peace Officer, Deputy Sheriff, in the very near future. Congratulations to Casey and his fellow Academy Graduates!”


Ashland County Sheriff's Office, Chief Deputy David Blake said, “Casey Benavides is a good employee. Since the beginning of COVID and trying to get police officers, we have learned to start investing in our own staff. He was selected to attend the peace officer school in which we are so proud that he had graduated. Deputy Benavides is a benefit to our agency.”



Casey Benavides speech to the Cadets of BAS23-024:



Good evening


Before I begin, I want to thank everyone for coming tonight and I think I will speak for all my classmates when I say thank you to our loved ones for putting up with us the past six months.


I am Casey Benavides


and If you are wondering why I was appointed to be class speaker


It is NOT because I was the fastest, like Alabanese, or Big and strong like Rose and Howard. I was not Top Shot Like Bonham, or a great Driver like Robinson or The best at SFST like Conner, The shiniest boots like Jarvis even though he cheated. I don't have a great cop mustache like Davis and Ewing. I am not the oldest, that's Fritz by a lot. I'm not smart like Nauman. I wasn’t the most talkative Akeman. I also don't know all the young cool sayings like Cox.


So…

It really only comes down to one thing… I am the best looking.


When my fellow cadets appointed me to be the class speaker at graduation, I was eager to tell my captain that I was voted to be class speaker. Although he said oh no… I really think he meant you're going to do great.


And so, our journey began.


March 6, 2023, at 0715 hours the new North Central State Police academy class 23-BAS-024 cadets began to pull into the parking lot of the college, wearing our new dress uniforms, freshly polished boots, clean shaven and were mentally preparing for the first day of our new careers. I am sure we were all nervous, maybe scared and a little excited.


The first day was a very memorable day for me. The new cadets were asked to stand up and introduce themselves and why they wanted to become law enforcement officers. Everyone in the class was so sure why they wanted to become law enforcement officers with answer such as: Helping people, serving the community, protecting those who can’t protect themselves, family members in the field, and everyone said, to change the way the people view law enforcement.


Everyone said that answer or close to it… everyone except one, me. My answer was:


I have no idea why I want to be a police officer, if I am being honest I never really liked cops. I always thought they were arrogant and entitled. I had become jaded towards Law enforcement and started to believe what some of the public thought of police officers.


Then our training began, and at first, we struggled to bond as a class, and I think it took us longer than most classes to finally bond. We were hesitant to talk to each other and participate in class discussion and struggled with physical training.


The simple task of marching to the gym to work out seemed like it was impossible to accomplish. Then During PT, Chief Dorsey put us through very tough workouts that he made look easy. We couldn’t seem to get it right and did a lot of push-ups for it. In class the PowerPoints were long and grueling, and our hands cramped with writing page after page of notes, with many mess ups, there seemed to be no end in sight.


Fast forward a few weeks to the firing range. The range was where we as a class began to come out of our shells. We were outside all day long, with 2 relays that would take turns firing. The instructors were great and focused on helping those on the firing line. So, while we waited for our turn to go, we had time to talk to each other and get to know one another.


We struggled with shooting at first and our confidence was starting to fade. With help from the instructors, we began to help one another, giving advice, and providing words of encouragement to make it through. After thousands of rounds and countless times of the line our confidence grew, and we all passed the shooting qualifications. But we all know as long as none of our adversaries are wearing a shirt with a bowling pin on it, we should all be fine in a gunfight.


We had a lot of laughs and good times on the range, and I remember thinking I'm starting to like these guys.


From there we started to grow together as future law enforcement officers. We began to joke and have more laughs, and we were starting to get better at this job, with less and less failing our trials and tests. We watched each other succeed and were proud and happy for our classmates. I watched my classmates fight to the very end, refusing to leave a cadet behind. I never once saw one of us tell somebody no, if they asked for help. Even when we really didn't want them to do a painful subject control technique, we still always said yes. We were always willing to help no matter what.


But as they say, the good times don't last forever.


The last few months of school were a tough test for our class comradery. The classes were pass or fail and the pressure was on. The confidence that we had once gained was fading again. We all could have easily given up on one another and left the ones that were struggling behind and let them fail. But Law enforcement never takes the easy way out. We motivated one another to keep pushing and not give up even though there were many times we wanted to.


After a day of 850 push-ups for not knowing the answers, We knew that we could not get through this alone and we would have to lean on each other and rely on teamwork. We dug down deep and prepared for our final stretch of classes; PT, Subject Control, Traffic Crash, SFST’s, and Crime Scene.


It was amazing to witness the late-night study sessions for the crash, SFST’s and crime scenes. I noticed that this group truly cares and that they really meant what they said on that first day of class. They want to make a difference and they want to help.

After countless hours of practicing techniques, studying late at the empty school, and working out together…We can finally say... We did it!


So, the 6 months 840 hours of classes had come to an end and I had realized that my classmates had surprised me once more. I thought back to that first day and this extraordinary group of people changed my outlook on law enforcement. They motivated me to do better, and help be part of the change that I know my classmates will bring to the communities.


We learned together, We fought together, We lost together, but most importantly we Won together.


So, classmates, I have one final request to ask you, and I know you won't say no. I ask that you never lose your desire to help others and that you stay true to yourselves. You do have the power to change people's perspective of Law enforcement. Because you all played a big part in changing me. I hope you're all as proud of yourselves as I am.


Thank you all for the memories, thanks for the laughs, and waking up to 86 unread texts in the group chat. And thank you for showing me that law enforcement is full of great-hearted people.


I would also like to thank all the instructors for the many lessons that they taught, even though there were times they weren't our favorite people in the world. The hard lessons were good lessons. They always told us if we ever needed anything, don't hesitate to reach out to them.



I want to wish you all good luck in your careers, and I truly hope the best for all of you. Stay safe and always remember… HANDS, HANDS, HANDS.


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