KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo's police cadets graduated recently from the prestigious IU Police Academy, the first from the campus to attain that honor.
Andrew Doran, 22, and Eddy Chapa, 37, earned Indiana Law Enforcement Certification during the 12-week program, and are now qualified for employment by any department statewide. They are currently serving as officers on the Kokomo campus.
They were among 38 graduates, from six IU campuses, who completed the program, which includes classroom activities, grueling physical training, and hands-on learning. They ran more than 100 miles during the course, and swam hours of laps during the training.
"I am really proud of this accomplishment," Doran, from Kokomo, said. "There was so much to learn in such a short time. It was overwhelming at first."
Both said the most interesting part of the program was an "active shooter" exercise, preparing the officers in case of an armed shooter on campus.
"It's a weird feeling when you run at someone who is shooting, to take him down," Doran said. "Your instinct is to run away, but as an officer, it is your job to run into that situation."
Chapa added, though, it is important to practice those skills.
"Everything you do goes back to your training," he said. "You practice until it is second nature, and you just do what you're supposed to do, without having to mentally run through it."
Nancy Greenwood, chairperson of the Department of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security, said faculty are pleased to have the partnership with the police department.
"It has been a successful experience for our students, and it demonstrates the high level of preparation that our criminal justice program provides for students seeking police academy training and jobs in law enforcement," she said.
Chapa, who moved to Kokomo from Texas to be closer to his daughter, said earning the certification puts him one step closer to his chosen career as a police officer.
He was impressed to meet former IU Police cadets who have gone on to careers in the FBI and other agencies, and have held high-level law enforcement jobs.
"It was interesting to think those people went through the same things we did, and look where they are now," he said. "It was encouraging."
Lt. Greg Butler, director of the training division for the IU Police Department, does not know of another university that offers a similar program.
"What makes it unique is that these college students can get a Police Officer Certification by a state-authorized academy, and then work as a police officer with full arrest powers, part time, while attending school full time," Butler said. "When they graduate from IU, they have a college degree, Indiana Law Enforcement Certification, and that valuable commodity called job experience."
Doran plans to complete his degree in criminal justice in December, and wants to find a law enforcement job in or near Hamilton County. Chapa plans to earn degrees in criminal justice and general studies in May 2014. He hopes his Spanish language skills, bachelor's degrees, law enforcement certification, and an associate degree he previously earned in business management will help him find a job in Indiana.
Jerry Williams, IU Kokomo interim police chief, said attending the graduation brought back memories of his own academy days.
"I have been there, and I know what a huge accomplishment this is," he said. "To simply say, 'They graduated the academy,' does not do them justice. It is a whole lot more, and I would not even know the words to describe it. I know the hard work, dedication, and loyalty it takes to realize this dream. I am very proud of them."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.