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14 new cadets set to join law enforcement in Southwest Colorado

Durango police chief touches on police scrutiny during commencement address
Cadet corporal Kyler Rogers of the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office speaks to his fellow graduates during the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy's graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at River Bend Ranch just north of Durango. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

Fourteen police and sheriff’s office cadets are set to join to the force after graduating from the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy on Sunday afternoon.

The commencement ceremony was held at River Bend Ranch just north of Durango.

The cadets will take on roles in law enforcement agencies throughout Southwest Colorado after meeting the requirements to enter the field.

“Graduation day is always a special day for all of us,” academy director Doug Parker said.

Parker said the academy saw “these young people 20 weeks ago” come together with a common goal, adding that the graduates are now about to the “next big step into what I believe is the most honorable profession in the world, law enforcement.”

As the new cadets were acknowledged for their accomplishments by both Parker and their peers, there were laughs and even some tears of happiness.

Durango Police Chief Brice Current was the event’s commencement speaker.

He spoke to the role of a police officer and how recent political environments have made it ever more important for officers to fulfill their duty with honor.

Police officers and sheriff's deputies attend the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy's graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at River Bend Ranch just north of Durango. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

“I would submit the scrutiny is not from a vacuum, but from a slow drip where police failed to change. After 25 years of law enforcement, I've realized the ignition comes from outdated training focused on negative approach to the Constitution, centering on what we can and cannot do instead of what we should do,” he told the crowd of around 150 people, regarding the scrutiny law enforcement have received in recent years.

Current said the role of a police officer should be to “safeguard the people from harm.”

During the ceremony, Eddie and Betty Box conducted a Native American blessing for their niece and nephew, Selena Lucero and Phillip Le, who graduated from the academy on Sunday. Eddie Box is a retired police captain for the Southern Ute Police Department.

Lucero will serve as a cadet for the Southern Ute Police Department, while Le will work for the Bayfield Police Department. Le was also named one of the cadet supervisors for this year’s class.

“We are the thin blue line that separates order from chaos. And we carry that responsibility with honor and integrity. In the face of adversity we will not alter the presence of danger and we will not retreat,” Le said about becoming a police officer.

Another cadet supervisor, Ben Knobloch, said his journey through the academy was exciting and unforgettable. He acknowledged each of his peers' specific skill sets.

“Together we face the challenges of the academy, supporting each other through tough times and celebrating our victories. Each of us has contributed to this journey in a way that has enjoyed our collective experience,” he said.

Knobloch will become an officer for the Durango Police Department.

Cadet Sergeant Phillip Le with the Bayfield Police Department speaks to his fellow graduates during the Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy's graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at River Bend Ranch just north of Durango. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald)

All fourteen officer graduating on Sunday were sponsored by local agencies, something that Le noted the class should be proud of.

Cadet Cpl. Kyler Rogers, who will serve the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, said the journey “was not without its trials” and pushed the cadets beyond their limits.

“We've confronted real life scenarios that demanded quick thinking and the ability to act decisively,” he said.

Here’s a full list of Sunday’s graduates:

  • Caleb Brown, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office
  • Colton Calavan, Pagosa Springs Police Department
  • Lynn Drain, South Fork Police Department
  • Matt Helms, Durango Police Department
  • Ben Knobloch, Durango Police Department
  • Phillip Le, Bayfield Police Department
  • Selena Lucero, Southern Ute Police Department
  • Taylor Marston, Cortez Police Department
  • Kaleb Rittenhouse, unspecified
  • Kyler Rogers, Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Isaac Tillery, Fort Lewis College Police Department
  • Cayden Worcester, Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Rodrigo Pucci, Durango Police Department
  • Kat Sargent, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office

tbrown@durangoherald.com



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