Jefferson County Sheriff's Reserve Academy, the only academy of its kind in the state of West Virgina, celebrated its second graduation on Saturday, Aug. 17 with a pinning ceremony for 14 individuals who spent over 150 hours completing the program.
Cpl. Ben Williams, supervising deputy for the program, explained to those attending the ceremony that the reservists, following the ceremony, would join the ranks of other deputy reservists and assist the police officers of the county with a variety of duties.
"They will assist with community events including the fair, the Arts and Crafts festival and other large events," he said. "They will also assist with traffic accidents, policing and arrests. These men and women will be an extra set of eyes and ears on the ground," Williams said.
The Academy began its first session last year and has held one prior graduation ceremony.
The idea of an academy came about because reservists in the past have been trained in an unorganized manner based on time constraints and availability. While each received training from a certified officer, the timeline varied with each individual.
Williams said at the outset, "As law enforcement officers in West Virginia, we all attend the same police academy. This Reserve Academy will lend the same type of consistency to the training."
The Academy has received statewide recognition and support as was shown by Sen. John Unger who spoke at Saturday's ceremony. Unger will take part in the program during the next class as he will soon serve in the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Chaplaincy program. Unger presented each cadet congratulatory greetings and certificates from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and from the Legislature.
Joining 11 Jefferson County reservists were three reservists from Berkeley County who took part in the program. Berkeley County Sheriff Kenny LeMaster was on hand to commend the Academy and to express how the program offers a way for Jefferson and Berkeley to work closely together.
Cpl. Joe Malcolm, who is the Reserve Academy Coordinator, joined Williams and Lt. Ken Andrews in the pinning ceremony following the presentation of certificates.
Williams then recognized Clinton Blevins as the Outstanding Cadet for Jefferson County and Daniel Nicolae as the Outstanding Cadet for Berkeley County.
Reservist Joshua Foster, who was selected by his peers as the class spokesperson, told the audience, "One of the best decisions I could have made was to get into this program."
Foster commended the instructors who taught the classes and all of the officers from both county's who assisted the cadets with ride-alongs and other parts of the curriculum.
"We have put over a hundred hours in," Foster said, "But Joe and Ben [Malcolm and Williams] have put more. What they give on a daily basis...they go above and beyond."
"These guys are a huge help to our department," Williams said.
To serve as a deputy reserve officer, candidates must be over 18, a United States citizen and a resident of West Virginia. Background checks are performed and potential candidates are approved by the supervising deputy, the sheriff and the Jefferson County Commission.
For those interested in finding out more about the Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff's Reserve program, call 304-728-3205.