With friends, family and peers in attendance, 32 new sheriffs deputies graduated from Penn State on Friday.
The graduation, held at the HUB-Robeson Center, marked 19 weeks of training for the men and women of class 53 as they received their accreditation through the university’s Justice and Safety Institute Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Basic Training. The institute acts as the educator for sheriffs in all 67 counties in the state.
“(The academy) is tasked by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency through the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Board to provide basic training for all sheriffs and deputy sheriffs within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and advanced instructor-level training of a particular nature,” institute Associate Director Michael Ecker said during his opening comments.
Education, according to Penn State, includes a wide range of training, including state crime codes, firearms training, first responder training, courtroom security and physical training.
In his address to the graduating class, Philadelphia sheriffs department Deputy Chief Paris Washington told the new deputies to remember three important points: truth, service and encouragement.
“Be true to that commitment,” he said. “Go back to your respective counties and show your sheriffs they did not make a mistake in hiring you.”
He also reminded the deputies of their purpose — to provide a safe place for justice and their part in the judicial process. Sheriffs keep courthouses and facilities safe, he said, providing a safe place for victims to seek justice and law enforcement to testify.
He encouraged the graduates to depend on each other, saying that, despite covering 67 counties, they all remained in the same brotherhood.
“We all go through the same issues,” he said. “We all perform the same tasks; we’re all on the same page.”
Instructors in the sheriff program range from police to fellow deputies to parole officers to local government figures. Local instructors include officers from Ferguson and Patton township police departments, Penn State police, district judges and a Centre County commissioner.
While the recruits came from across the state — Philadelphia, York, Westmoreland, Berks and Huntingdon — only one graduate will be continue his work in Centre County.
Newly minted deputy Matthew Fisher said he grew up in York County, but came to Centre County as a student and graduated from Penn State with a degree in criminal justice. He said he’ll be leaping straight into the job starting Monday at the Centre County Courthouse.
He said the most memorable part of the training was “making the camaraderie with the other folks from the other counties.”
“It was definitely a good learning experience to see how they do things in other counties,” he said.