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Police academy graduates 12

June 22, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Christina McAllister was crowned Miss Western Maryland in 2001. On Monday, she became a Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy.

McAllister, 21, was among 12 people who graduated from the Western Maryland Police Training Academy at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater on Monday.

After a ceremony filled with tradition - members of the Hagerstown Police Department Color Guard, their shoes clicking, marched across the auditorium to post flags and families pinned badges on their sons, daughters, husbands and wives - the graduating class presented a video with the background music of Creed that showed the blunders and feats they shared during six months of training.

The class valedictorian, now Hagerstown Police Department Officer Aaron Horton, set the stage for the video presentation, reflecting upon the time a trainee ran a cruiser up a tree and the time a nature walk left him with more bruises than he could have imagined.

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"We've all been knocked down so many times in the past six months," Horton said. But he said the training the new officers and deputies received will prepare them for "what lies ahead."

New Hagerstown Police Department Officer Carly Monaghan, 22, said she's ready to take on whatever the public throws at her. She said she worked as a seasonal police officer at a beach and became hooked on law enforcement.

"This is one of the best occupations. You don't know what you're getting into every day," she said.

That is the same reason new Sheriff's Department Deputy James Lobley decided to take on police work.

Lobley, 24, graduated from Radford University with a bachelor's degree in business administration, but said he "didn't want to be behind a desk."

Lobley, who was named the class sergeant and who received an award for his police driving skills, said he had not planned to go into law enforcement, but now places his graduation from the academy as one of his "greatest accomplishments."

McAllister, who received an award for physical fitness, changed her plans, also. She said she had planned to go into social work, but saw "plenty of opportunity" to serve the community as a police officer.

Proud father Jesse Witmer held a camera as he watched his youngest son, Jonathan Witmer, 25, pose with new deputies for a picture. Jonathan Witmer, who received an award for firearms proficiency, is Jesse Witmer's second son to join the department.

Jonathan's older brother, Deputy Carl Witmer said, "I'll help him out with whatever he needs, but there are some things he needs to learn on his own."

Jesse Witmer, 50, said he's sure the two will take care of each other.

"They always have over the years growing up," he said.

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