Eighteen recruits graduated from the Allan Hancock College Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy on Tuesday, including 11 recruits who will go on to work for police agencies in Santa Barbara County.
During the academy, recruits were required to successfully complete the California Peace Officer Standards and Training course that consisted of 830 hours of instruction in community policing, search and seizure, firearms, ethics, investigation procedures, patrol techniques, arrest and control, CPR/first aid, emergency vehicle operations and other skills.
Recruits also fired thousands of rounds for target practice. Physical training consisted of running more than 216 miles.
Cole Knapp, whose actions helped saves during the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in 2018, graduated as a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office custody deputy on Friday.
Additionally, recruits were required to pass multiple written exams.
“This is the core of what we do as a community college,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers during the ceremony held at the college's Public Safety Training Complex in Lompoc. “These are the people who you want to be there to help you on your very worst day.”
Seventeen recruits already have been hired by local law enforcement agencies, including the Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo police departments, the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county sheriff’s offices and the UC Santa Barbara Police Department.
At the Hancock College Basic Law Enforcement Academy, located in Lompoc, aspiring police officers and sheriff’s deputies go through an intensive 21-week training program that fulfills all of the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) requirements. The majority of the academy’s students go on to work for agencies across the Central Coast.
The Santa Maria Police Department received eight graduates, including Victor Cortez-Silva, Jose Gomez Zambrano, Bryce Moses, Antonio Pena, James Roach, Caleb Scherrer, Angel Velasquez and Matthew Walker.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office received three graduates — Cameron Hossli, Celeste Johnson and Blake Martinez.
Johnson was honored with several awards, including the Academic and Report Writing Awards, according to Raquel Zick, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
Johnson was a 911 communications dispatcher for the Sheriff's Office prior to enrolling in the academy.
"It was kind of always in the back of my mind as far as my end goal," Johnson said, adding that she was seeking a more challenging career. "Dispatch just happened to be where I could get my foot in the door at the time."
Johnson said that she and the other newly minted Sheriff's Office deputies will become solo patrol deputies after completing the Field Training program, which lasts a little more than four months.
Other graduates include Davina Valerio, Arroyo Grande Police Department; Luis Martinez, independent; Walter Canizalez, Paso Robles Police Department; John Stevens, SLO Police Department; Hiruy Gemechu, SLO County Sheriff’s Department; Michael Tschoepe, SLO County Sheriff’s Department; and Marco Pavico, UC Santa Barbara Police Department.
“The last 21 weeks have been a challenge like no other, but they also include memories we will never forget,” said Tschoepe, who was named valedictorian. “The growth we all experienced was incredible.”