23 graduate from peace officer academy

Seven women accepted their graduation certificates Saturday from the Western Nevada State Peace Officer's Academy, setting the record for the highest percentage of women graduates in the history of the academy.

"There should be more women in this profession," said graduate Samantha Jo Moore. "It's not something that only men can do. If you put your heart and your mind to it, you can do it."

Twenty-three cadets marched in the ceremony held at the Nevada State Library and Archives.

Brand inspector and reporter for KOLO TV John Tyson told the graduates that with their badges comes authority but that authority should not be abused.

"No power in the world gives you the right to deprive people of their dignity," he said. "It is your obligation to teach by example. Your badge and your uniform demand it."

Richard Finn, director, said that this year's class was one of the best to come through the academy.

"This is an outstanding class both academically and just because they're a whole heck of a lot of fun," he said.

The class had the highest cumulative grade-point average and the smallest margin that determined the valedictorian, Glenn Fair.

"It was a lot of hard work but it was worth every bit of it," Fair said. "I'm very competitive and it's important to me to finish on top."

Moore received the top driver award for finishing first in the emergency vehicles operations course. She was the first woman to receive the award.

"I didn't expect it, I just gave it my best," she said. "I guess that's what happens when you give all your heart. I feel great."

The top gun award for best shooting skills went to Tim Vasquez and the lion heart award for overcoming obstacles was given to Charles Woodland.

Lissa Rojas was the only cadet to score 100 percent on all five final scenarios, which are the practical applications of what is learned in the 30-week long academy.

"I had a lot of good training," said Rojas, who graduated with the third highest grade-point average in the class. "I was competing with a lot of good people and that pushed me to do well."

She said she didn't expect any special treatment as a woman.

"You've got to be just that much more dedicated and determined," she said. "All the guys just accepted me and I was expected to do the same amount."

Academy Commander Katie Durbin said it is hard to see a class go.

"You get through it with a lot of hard work and love," she said. "You don't spend 30 weeks with the students and not get attached. I feel like I'm their mom."

One of the highlights of the ceremony was the national anthem sung by Lori Stanley of Idaho, who graduated from the first class in 1996.

She sang at her own inaugural and was asked then to come and sing at every graduation. She has.

"It's a joy and it's an honor," she said. "It brings back memories."

The graduates and hometowns were:

Carson City: Karina Bowman, Ethan Blosch, Randy Chavez, Lucie Connell, Daniel Cruz, Glenn Fair, Jason Gault, Don Gibson, Brian Percival, Tom Urso and Sylvia Valenzuela

Dayton: Jorge Peirrott

Gardnerville: Andy Hettrick

Minden: Hellie Dimitri, Lissa Rojas, Mike Scott, Jim Silva and Tim Vasquez

Reno: Dan Gomes, Jimmy Wilson and Charles Woodland

Virginia City: Debi Collins

Zephyr Cove: Samantha Jo Moore


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