The latest class of the Southeastern New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy were officially welcomed to the “family” on Tuesday.
Proud family members, children, Hobbs city officials and numerous law enforcement leaders packed into the Lea County Event Center banquet hall Tuesday to cheer on 14 cadets graduating from SNMLEA held at New Mexico Junior College. The ceremony for Class A-17-39 arrived after more than four months of intensive training by cadets who hail from nine law enforcement agencies from across the state. They arrived to the hall as cadets and left with diplomas, shiny badges and law enforcement careers ahead of them.
“It’s been a good class,” Walter Coburn, lead instructor of SNMLEA, said Tuesday. “They came in as a diverse group of individuals and they’re graduating as a team.”
To mark the milestone occasion, graduates had their badges pinned onto their uniforms by loved ones or colleagues, took the oath of honor administered by Magistrate Judge David Finger and heard words of advice from keynote speaker, Lovington Police Chief David Rodriguez. Video clips from academy training entertained the audience as cadets relived highlights and other experiences from SNMLEA like hurtling concrete block walls or getting pepper sprayed.
Rodgriguez reflected on the demands of the profession and noted communities depend on officers’ sacrifices to serve and protect.
“To each one of you, congratulations,” he concluded. “To your family and friends, thank you for the continual support. And on behalf of my fellow law enforcement agencies: Welcome to the family.”
The class’ distinguished graduate, Nicholas Pereyra of the Hobbs Police Department, explained he became a police officer because he was looking for a job that’s similar to the military after he got out of the Army, citing the “order and discipline.” He served as a medic in the Army.
“It was an honor and I’m really happy that it was in this town that I work in,” he said on his recognition.
Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall said the department is “very proud” of Pereyra and his distinguished graduate award.
“The academy’s always a lot of hard work for any attendee and to receive the distinguished graduate award is a great honor,” he said. “We’re proud that it was an officer from our department who earned that.”
Several of the 14 graduates came from Lea County agencies. Those graduates are: Pereyra, Juan Jaimes and Zane Wiseman of Hobbs police; Miles Crouch of Lovington Police Department; and Jacob Miller of Jal Police Department. The other agencies represented were Portales, Clovis, Carlsbad and Artesia police, Otero County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Parks.