“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Fifth Annual Department of Public Safety Police Academy graduates. That is our future sitting there.”

With those words Daleville DPS Chief Allen Medley presented the graduates of the Fifth Annual DPS Junior Police Academy at a ceremony held at the Daleville Cultural and Convention Center July 9. “This is why we do this,” he said pointing to the 14 young men and women seated at the front of the room.

The graduates were honored for completing the weeklong course that was coordinated by Medley and DPS School Resource Officers Michael Kiley and Ryan Phillips.

Graduates of the Class of 2021 are Emma Lafferty, Mason Lafferty, Caleb Lashley, Titus Lashley, Preston McNelley, Reginald McNelley, Kevin Montgomery, Jaiden Paul, Mason Roberts, Maggie Smith, Addy Wade, Blaire Wade, Reagan Wade and Hunter Walker.

Smith earned the top female designation in the shooting events. She was also named the Class of 2021 Outstanding Cadet.

Mason Lafferty was recognized for earning the top male designation in the physical training and shooting events.

Reagan Wade earned the top female designation in the physical training events.

“Investing in our future,” is the main purpose of the annual academy, held July 6-9 this year, according to Medley. This year’s academy was shortened to a week but Medley said it will return bigger and better next year. “My goal is to fill this room up,” he told those attending the graduation. “This is our future sitting there, ladies and gentlemen.

“When I started this academy, my goal was fixing that gap between law enforcement and young people,” Medley said. “We’ve got to keep that gap filled in and let them know we are here for them as much as they are here for us.

“It’s been a privilege to spend the week with your kids,” Medley told the family members present.

Graduation keynote speaker Daleville Municipal Judge Barbara Wade agreed, adding her appreciation to the DPS for their service. “I consider it a privilege, at any time, to work with the Daleville Department of Public Safety,” she told those attending the ceremony. “This police department is helping this community be a better and a safer place.

“The department is made up of officers who are ‘brothers to the blue’ all over this Wiregrass area. They are friends to our Daleville citizens, they are family to our seniors here in Daleville who can’t be with their own families at this time. They are role models to the youth who are desperately looking for something good in this world,” Wade said. “Taking on the job of police officer is not something that’s taken lightly.

“While their primary objective is to protect and serve the community by upholding ordinances and state codes and laws, I’ve had the opportunity to personally see that law enforcement is not the whole thing that this department does,” Wade said. “There is not a week that goes by that this police department is not faced with some sort of emergency or human tragedy. They’ve held hands with those that are sick, they have assisted in saving lives of those that are in immediate need. When needed, they sit with family who in some cases are saying their final goodbyes to other family members.

“I’ve also seen these officers lend mental health support, sometimes just talking to someone,” Wade added. “I personally witnessed an officer sitting on the floor across from an inmate in a jail cell talking him down from an episode. That officer stayed there talking with him, sharing with him, helping him through that episode.

“But by far the best thing that I have seen is the heart that this department has for the Daleville Junior Police Academy,” Wade said, commending Medley for initiating the academy in 2017.

“The opportunities that were afforded to these cadets during this past week was nothing short of amazing,” said Wade, who had joined the cadets during the week. “These cadets were very fortunate for each and every opportunity they received during the academy. It was amazing.

Firing range safety, a law enforcement career, the role of aviation in crime fighting and making good personal choices were among the topics covered. They also received training at the one-year-old $23-million Wiregrass Safety Center in Dothan.

Life skills learned during the week included how to act with integrity, how to remain honest, how to show respect, how to manage time, the benefits of hard work, how to cope with personal emotions, how to be both critical and creative in thinking and how to communicate with others, Wade said. “And last but not least, how to walk in a straight line,” she added with a smile.

“They leave here tonight with stories of the week that I encourage them to share with their family and their friends when they go back to school this fall. They leave here tonight with the full support of the Daleville DPS,” Wade said. “They also leave here tonight with a better understanding of the life skills that they were taught and experienced. These cadets were not accepted into the academy this week because of who they were but because of who they will become.”

Medley said the academy would not be possible without community support and donations. He gave special thanks to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Dale County Sheriff’s Office, Houston County Sheriff’s Office, Dothan Police Department, Fort Rucker’s S.W.A.T., Daleville City Councilman Kevin Turley, McDonalds, Subway, McLins Restaurant, Best Burger and Walmart for their support of the academy.

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