The 45th class of the IU Police Academy kicked off this week with greetings and advice from academy and host campus division leadership -- all graduates of the academy -- and a somber note as they all listened to passages from the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The memorial website honors police officers who have died in the line of duty. Maj. Stephen Luce noted that two of the entries he read Monday morning recognized officers who were killed within the last week, including a death in nearby Terre Haute, where Terre Haute Police Department Officer Rob Pitts died from a gunshot wound while investigating a homicide.
The daily Officer Down Memorial Page readings, which follow the Pledge of Allegiance, are intended to honor officers killed in the line of duty, while the information contained in the readings supports academy training efforts, said Luce, director of the IUPA.
"Our goal is that by incorporating these readings into our morning ritual, the recruits can learn from these line-of-duty deaths to make themselves better aware of the hazards and unfortunate circumstances that face law enforcement officers daily," he said.
Somber. Otherwise, Monday morning's kickoff had an undeniable undercurrent of excitement as recruits, all IU students from nearly every IU campus, listened to the leadership's expectations and contemplated the days -- and hard work -- between then and graduation in August.
IU Police Academy, which graduated its first class in 1972, is one of six satellite academies of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield and the only higher education-centric law enforcement academy in the U.S. The recruits who successfully complete the academy become certified law enforcement officers and typically work part-time as sworn IUPD officers while completing their IU degrees.
Criminal justice is the most popular major among this year's class, with quite a few recruits double majoring or minoring in psychology. Other majors include public safety management, communications, law and public policy, computer science, informatics, human biology, chemistry, sociology and international studies. Some students are beginning graduate studies.
Benjamin Hunter, superintendent of public safety at IU, encouraged the recruits to complete their academic degrees after graduating from the academy.
"Together with your law enforcement certificate and 4-year degree, you'll be unstoppable," he told them. Hunter told them they will creating lasting bonds over the summer.
"Make sure you soak everything in," he said. "A lot will be thrown at you. It will set up your career for the next 20, 30, even 40 years."
You can learn a little bit about the recruits, and their motivation for going into law enforcement, by checking out the IU Police Academy Facebook page, which includes brief profiles about many of the recruits.
You'll see that many of the recruits were inspired by family members or by a desire to help people. Several recruits want to improve the image police have with the communities they serve.
"I want to be part of the change in the criminal justice system," said Katherine Yajure.
During Monday's welcome, the recruits were urged to take care of each other and reminded that their conduct, in and out of uniform, needs to be above what's expected of their student peers. They received cell phone numbers from IUPD-Bloomington Chief Laury Flint, the two IUPD captains and others.
"I'm giving this to you to use," Flint said, reinforcing the idea that the recruits are now part of a family. "I have the privilege of being the host chief. You're all here for the summer and you're all mine."