By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Ten weeks ago, Tupelo’s three newest police officers walked into an academy classroom with sweat beads across their foreheads and wary looks on their faces after finishing their first week of training.
Last Friday morning, proud mothers, wives, fathers and husbands gathered at the Link Centre to pin badges on the three North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center’s newest graduates.
John Toney, Cassidy Jumper and Joseph Senter – the three cadets sent by the Tupelo Police Department – were a part of a 19-cadet class representing law enforcement agencies from around north Mississippi. The Daily Journal interviewed them after the first week and again near the end of their training.
“The first week is very physically and mentally challenging,” said Toney, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. “We learn our stress points and how far our body can go.”
Since the first week, they have studied constitutional law and civil rights, learned to keep control of a patrol car while monitoring bystanders in a high-speed car chase and have been sprayed with mace.
By week eight, they were visibly more physically fit and much more confident in their training than after the first week.
“The training has taught us our limitations but also what all we’re capable of doing,” Senter said.
When awards were handed out to the cadets at Friday’s graduation, the Tupelo Police cadets stood out.
Toney led the class of cadets as platoon leader. Jumper and Senter served under Toney, each leading one of the class’ four squads. Toney also received the award for having the highest firearms proficiency score.
Senter received the award for having the highest overall average at the academy, which included firearms proficiency, physical training, defense tactics and academics. He was also the unanimous choice for the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy award, given to the person who best represents the academy and voted on by the cadets.
“It paid off, how tough our hiring process is, because we’re obviously getting some good guys,” said Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton. “The community ought to be proud of that, hiring people that are really qualified and stand out in the academy.”
Jumper served as a desk clerk in the Tupelo Police Department for several years before going through the reserve officer academy. Senter also previously worked as a reserve officer.
The next step in their career is a 12-week shadowing period where the cadets will train under another officer.
“If they see we are confident law enforcement officers, they will turn us loose after that,” Toney said. “It will be exciting to apply all of this in the street.”
Jumper said he is excited to patrol after serving as a desk clerk.
“It will be a lot different being on the other side of the radio,” he said.