Miami police academy class 108 holds graduation ceremony
Corporal Frederica Burden, the Mistress of Ceremony.
By Derek Joy
The curtain rose on the law enforcement careers of PAC 108 members in the auditorium of the Miami Police Training Center. That’s PAC, as in Police Academy Class Number 108.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the members of PAC Number 108,” said Corporal Frederica Burden, a public information officer for the city of Miami Police Department, who was Mistress of Ceremony.
The 25 graduates endured 29 weeks of intense study and grueling training to reach this point. Now, they enter the world of work as law enforcement officers: One in Coral Gables, seven with the Miami Dade College Police and 17 with the city of Miami.
“This is an amazing accomplishment in your life,” Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Lanes told the graduates, following the invocation by Miami Police Chap-lain Chaim Lipskar.
“You earned the distinction
of being a graduate of the Academy. You weren’t drafted. You answered the call to service.
“You’re closing one chapter and opening another. This is your call to service to your fellow man. Service takes many fronts. Sometimes it means arresting someone, sometimes it means helping someone who can’t help themselves.”
Llanes addressed some of the situations these graduates will face as they progress on the job. Their learning came under the tutelage of training officers and drill instructors that toil in relative obscurity.
Said Burden: “The role of training officers and drill instructors can sometimes be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be. They serve as mentors, advisors and counselors.”
Members of PAC 108 didn’t take their instructors lightly. In fact, ample praise was doled out when class member Isaac Chavez delivered the Class Address and Rick Jimenez and Alvaro Leon presented class awards.
Javier Cartegena, Jr. received the Academic Achievement Award, Ralph Penuela and Alexandria King received the Physical Fitness Award and the Top Gun Award went to Andrew Garcia.
“No one wakes up and says, I want to be a police officer,” said Chavez. “It’s a call to service. We have one common goal of honor, loyalty and service.”
Each graduate embodies those principles and committed to that goal. It has been a way of life for Antonio Hibbert, who was a three-year starting full-back at Columbus High School.
There he blocked for a different tailback each year and all gained 1,000 or more yards. Hibbert then accepted a Bright Futures Scholarship to the University of Florida rather than athletic scholarships to play football at other universities.
“No. I didn’t tell him to apply to the police department,” said Hibbert’s mother, Rosetta Joy Hibbert, a healthcare professional. “I knew nothing about it. He did it all himself. He’s his own man.”
Fred Reaser, one of Hibbert’s uncles who attended the ceremony, said: “He should do well. He’s smart, college educated, quiet and strong.”
When asked why he pursued a career in law enforcement, Hibbert said: “Service in a good career field. It’s what I wanted to do.”
Family support and understanding is an integral part of law enforcement. Each member of PAC 108 had multiple family members in attendance at the graduation ceremony.
“You join a special family now,” said Llanes. “This organization is great, one of the best in the country. It’s a stressful career, but rewarding. In time you’ll see the fruits of your labor.”