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First Class Graduates from Full-Time AWC Law Enforcement Training Academy

Four regional agencies benefit from local training

Yuma, AZ (August 31, 2019) – Ten students graduated Friday night from Arizona Western College’s first ever full-time Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA), the result of collaborative work with multiple municipal and agency partners.

The ten graduates from the first class include Erick Astorga, Carlos Bermudez, Juan C. Correa, Aaron Gonzalez Hernandez, Taylor Hatten, Eric Hawkland, Juan Luna, Misael M. Meza, Maria D. Rosales and Ana M. Silva.

Several students received special honors. Carlos Bermudez (Cocopah Tribal Police Department) received the Top Academician honor for highest average test score, including the final exam. Misael Meza (Yuma County Sheriff’s Office) was selected for the Firearms Award, reflecting the highest average for the day qualification and night qualification course. Eric Hawkland (Yuma Police Department) earned the Physical Fitness award for the highest score on the Peace Officers Physical Aptitude Test (POPAT). Maria Rosales (YCSO) was chosen by her peers as student speaker.

The final exam for the academy was proctored by an official from Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (AZ POST) so that upon completion all graduates were eligible for their AZ POST certification.  Students received their badge from their respective agency during the ceremony.

In spite of its identification as the AWC Academy, the vision and collaboration to make the academy possible is the result of work by many partners. The academy is housed in a facility owned by City of Yuma and renovated by the city Yuma Police Department and Yuma County Sheriff’s Office. Other agencies that participated in the program start-up include Parker Police, Wellton Police, Quartzsite Police, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Cocopah Tribal Police, San Luis Police, and Somerton Police. The program coordinator is Alfonso Zavala (YCSO) and the recruit training officers are Deputy Micah Huska (YCSO) and Officer Cesar Pino (YPD). The full-time academy was the vision of YPD Capt. Rod Hamilton and Rick Colwell, retiring LETA Director. Claudia Leyva is the acting Interim LETA Director.

The fact that all ten members of the first class had jobs waiting for them when they finished makes this training model special. The AWC LETA costs local agencies about $1000, plus equipment costs.  It will cost out of town agencies less than $5,000, plus equipment costs. The cost of sending a student to a full-time academy in Tucson or Phoenix would cost local agencies close to $15,000 per student, plus equipment costs and living expenses.

Two more 20-week sessions are planned for this school year, including a class that starts October 6, 2019 and a class that starts April 24, 2020. Registration is available by calling 928-317-6452.

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