New academy graduates welcomed in Tupelo, surrounding areas

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Southaven Police Chief Tom Long challenged the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center’s newest graduating class to be compassionate and diligent as they begin their careers.
The 23 graduates spent the last 10 weeks living, eating and breathing law enforcement while training at Tupelo’s law enforcement academy.
For some departments, the academy graduation marked an opportunity to expand.
“We were a part-time and reserve officer department and now we’re trying to go to full-time officers,” said Verona Police Chief Anthony Anderson. “(Roy Noe) makes seven full-time officers, up from just two-full time officers when I started.”
In Friday’s graduating class, six academy grads put themselves through the 10-week course without the promise of a position or a department to sponsor them.
“Right now, a lot of these guys still aren’t sure about their jobs,” said Scott Speaks, director of the training center. “They’ll go out looking for a job in hopes their certification gets them one step closer. It says a lot about their initiative and perseverance that someone will take their own money to pay to go through this 10-week challenge.”
Two of the self-sponsored graduates already have been given jobs with the Corinth Police Department.
For 25-year-old Brittany Gilleylen, graduating was an opportunity to pursue her dream.
“So many doors have opened for me and I feel like this is not just a job but a calling,” she said. “I feel like this is the direction God has led me. When you dream about something and it’s constantly in your heart, you pursue it.”
Gilleylen worked in the Oxford Police Department’s reserve program before they hired her and sponsored her time in the academy.
When Friday’s graduating class began the academy, there were 28 cadets. Speaks said the 23 that completed the course worked hard from before the sun came up until long after it set.
jb.clark@journalinc.com