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Wake Forest, Knightdale residents part of Appalachian Police Academy graduating class

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BOONE — Fifteen recruits graduated from the Appalachian State University Police Academy in August and all passed the examination to become certified North Carolina police officers.

Anthony Gibbs, of Wake Forest, and Cameron Masin, of Knightdale, were a part of the academy’s second graduating class. Graduation from the academy is a significant milestone of the Appalachian Police Officer Development Program — the second of its kind in the nation and the only such program in North Carolina.

Of last year’s graduating class, 100 percent are employed or pursuing further education. In all, 36 recruits have graduated from the academy since the APDP was launched in 2018.

Andy Stephenson, Appalachian’s director of public safety and chief of police, said, “After graduating from our program, Appalachian students entering the criminal justice system job market will have two years of work experience in policing, bachelor’s or graduate degrees, North Carolina law enforcement certification and training, and the exposure to different races, cultures, ideas and beliefs that enrollment at an institution of higher education provides. Appalachian students will be the policing leaders of tomorrow.”

Students who complete the two-year APDP become sworn police officers while simultaneously earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The program is offered free of charge for full-time Appalachian students, regardless of major. Students receive payment for their training hours and part-time work as cadets and police officers with the Appalachian Police Department.

During the academy graduation ceremony, APD Capt. K.C. Mitchell, who serves as director of police development and training coordinator, congratulated the students for their significant achievement.

The event’s guest speaker was Brent Herron, associate vice president for campus safety and emergency operations for the University of North Carolina System. Herron leads the UNC constituent institutions in the areas of campus safety, emergency management and continuity planning.

Abigail Rivera, of Durham, one of the graduating recruits who is a senior criminal justice major, served as the ceremony’s class speaker. She thanked Mitchell for believing in the recruits and for motivating them.

Additionally, Rivera said she was grateful to have had the privilege to be part of a program that allowed her to grow both physically and mentally and that introduced strong female role models who helped her discover a new level of strength and confidence.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Police Executives Association named the APD as the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year, primarily for its APDP.