Officers graduate from police academy

June 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Susan Rice said it was like a scene from the movie, "An Officer and a Gentleman,'' as members of the Western Maryland Police Training Academy supported one of their own as she struggled to complete a run.

Rice, 44, was one of 16 graduates of the 31st class Thursday in ceremonies at Hagerstown Junior College. She was chosen class speaker by acclimation - not for top grades but for her heart and determination.

"I owe my classmates a lot," the new Hagerstown City Police officer said. "Teamwork is terrific."

Rice recalled that on one particular run she fell behind and her classmates came back to support her after they had finished. They were there for each other in other ways too.


Johnny Murray, also a new Hagerstown City Police officer, had the highest grade point average and should have been class speaker but he gave it up for Rice.

"She put her career choice on hold for her husband and her children," Murray said. He added that she had done more during the 20-week course than people half her age.

Rice said she sometimes wondered why she was doing it. After all, she said, some of the class members were younger than her children.

Certificates were presented by Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones and Academy Director Lt. R.T. Hart Jr.

Judge Eric Johnson of the District Court for Montgomery County, Md., was guest speaker. A former police officer, he shared some words of advice and wisdom from both sides of the bench.

In addition to Murray and Rice, the new Hagerstown City Police officers who graduated Thursday are Douglas Hay, Decio Rapali and Justin Wert.

New Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies are Pamela Fogle and Valerie Weaver.

Also graduating were Brett Etzler, Kevin Grunwell, Channing Hillman, Michael Ochoa, Willie Ollie Jr. and Richard Rochford, Frederick County Sheriff's Department; Robert McKenzie Jr., Midland Police Department; Christopher McLoughlin, Thurmont Police Department; Matthew Stratton, University Park Police; and Lester Engel Jr., Natural Resources Police.

"You all will hold a place in my heart," Rice said in closing, addressing her classmates. "Be careful out there."

The Herald-Mail Articles