The Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) in Helena graduated 57 new officers on Friday.
The MLEA, operated by the Montana Department of Justice, provides basic and advanced training for state, county, city, and tribal law enforcement officers across the state.
The ceremony was held at the Gateway Center and included remarks from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, MLEA Training Officer Mike McCarthy, and the class representative for the graduating class, Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Forrest Merrill.
Several of the graduates received awards for their performance during training:
• Forrest S. Merrill received the Don Williams Award, which is given to the officer elected by the class as Class Representative. The award is given in memory of Thompson Falls Police Chief Don Williams, who was killed in the line of duty in 1974.
• Chea N. Hollis received the Health and Physical Fitness Award, which is given to the officer(s) in each class who participates and excels in the Hard Rock Challenge and achieves the class’s best score in the Montana Physical Abilities Test.
• James E. Zabel received the Paul Williams Award, which is given to the officer in each class who has provided great inspiration to the staff and students through a display of unwavering dedication and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Chouteau County Sheriff Paul Williams.
• Brett C. Hilde received the Jack Wiseman Award, which is given to the officer in each class who is selected by his peers as the most outstanding officer. The officers of each class select the recipient by pondering two questions: 1) If you were a law enforcement agency administrator, who would you most want to hire? 2) If it were 2:00 am and things were going bad quickly, who would you most want to know was coming to help you? The award is given in tribute to Jack Wiseman, who served as a training officer and commander at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 22 years.
• Chea N. Hollis also received the Joe May Award, which is given to the office in each class who displays exceptional leadership and an incredible sense of motivation. The award is given in honor of the late Joe May, one of the people credited with the conception and creation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
• Colt L. Hicks received the Glenn Janes Award, which is given to the student in each class who demonstrates the highest level of proficiency in the Police Vehicle Operation Course. The award is given in memory of the late Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Glenn Janes, who served as a driving instructor at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
• Kaci M. Hansen received the Jimmy Kaaro award, which is given to the officer who achieves the highest level of academic standing in each class. The award is given in honor of retired Fergus County Sheriff Jimmy Kaaro.
• Dustin L. Stroble received the Josh Rutherford Award, which is given to the officer in each class who achieves the highest scores in defensive tactics. The award is given in memory of Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Josh Rutherford, who was a defensive tactics instructor with the Montana Law Enforcement Academy when he lost his life in the line of duty in 2003.
• Dustin J. Sloan received the Alex Mavity Award, which is given to the student from each class who achieves the highest accumulated score on all academic and skills-based training. The award is given in honor of Billings Police Department Detective Alex Mavity, who was killed in the line of duty in 1989.
• Billy Munoz received the Hal Vogelsang Award, which is given to the officer in each class who displays the highest degree of fidelity as determined by the academy staff. The recipient has demonstrated exceptional qualities of honor, pride, integrity, duty, loyalty, and service to not only the class but the staff and entire profession. The award is given in honor of Hal Vogelsang, who served as an FBI special agent for more than 36 years and as a training officer at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 25 years.
• Steven N. Larson received the Allen Kimery Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding marksmanship and the class’s highest ranking in firearms training through marksmanship, safety, and tactical proficiency. The award is given in memory of Missoula County Sheriff Deputy Allen Kimery, who was killed in the line of duty in 1984.
Fox noted, “With drug crimes on the rise across the state, it’s critical that we have capable men and women serving as law enforcement officers in our communities. Today’s graduation provided our state with 57 additional highly trained officers that will be vital to combating the growing number of drug crimes in Montana. Not only are the officers here today assets to communities across the state, they are individuals who have chosen a noble career of public service, which we all should be thankful for. These graduates should be proud of what they’ve accomplished for themselves, and for the state of Montana.”
Roster of Class #160 and Duty Locations
Bleazard, Taylor Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Cook, Kaedon Anaconda Police Department
Gifford, Mackenzie Montana Highway Patrol
Hansen, Kaci Bozeman Police Department
Hartsell, Douglass Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
Lamebull, Charles Ft. Belknap Law Enforcement
Marketon, Jessica Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office
Power, Eric Montana Highway Patrol
Rockwell, Kevin Billings Police Department
Vaile, Tylor Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement
Fehrenbach, Korren Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Kelsey, Kevin Great Falls Police Department
Knaff, Jessica Montana Highway Patrol
Merrill, Forrest Missoula County Sheriff’s Office
Redburn, Nicholas Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
Richmond, Monte Montana Highway Patrol
Romero, Jayden Billings Police Department
Sullivan, Daniel Butte Silver Bow Law Enforcement
Zabel, James Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office
Hilde, Brett Billings Police Department
Hollis, Chea Missoula Police Department
Mills, Shawn Glendive Police Department
Munoz, Billy Montana Highway Patrol
Smith, Brandon Ronan Police Department
Smith, Jacob Great Falls Police Department
Stroble, Dustin Billings Police Department
Thompson, Evan Carbon County Sheriff’s Office
Weber, Paul Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office
Whitlatch, Wes Montana Highway Patrol
Bennett, Brian Dawson County Sheriff’s Office
Cook, Hunter Billings Police Department
Cotton, Rachel Havre Police Department
LaPlant, Misty Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Locklin, Brian Deer Lodge Police Department
Palen, Wade Montana Highway Patrol
Sloan, Dustin Miles City Police Department
Smith, Travis Cascade County Sheriff’s Office
Wilson, Mandy Missoula Police Department
Winn, Alec Madison County Sheriff’s Office
Augare, Shane Blackfeet Law Enforcement
Brown, Kathy Billings Police Department
Geher, Brandon Missoula Police Department
Harris, Joshua Cascade County Sheriff’s Office
Hicks, Colt Flathead County Sheriff’s Office
Kaarre, Randall Kalispell Police Department
Miller, Kelly Missoula International Airport
Nieman, Daniel Sidney Police Department
Pesola, Noah Montana Highway Patrol
DiGiovanna, Tyler Montana Highway Patrol
Guderian, Cara Great Falls Police Department
Larson, Steve Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Metcalf, Jess Toole County Sheriff’s Office
Pesola, Charles Flathead County Sheriff’s Office
Phipps, Bryan Montana Highway Patrol
Reyna, Chris Plains Police Department
Stratton, Scott Boulder Police Department
Weston, Seth Billings Police Department