Originally Published: December 4, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT- There are 38 new police officers ready to hit the street after Thursday's graduation of Class 39 of the Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy.
The Academy holds classes twice a year; this group was the largest ever, and included police recruits from 16 agencies.
Prescott Police Chief Jerry Monahan gave the keynote speech, touching on the concepts of service, honor, sacrifice and tolerance.
"The communities that have sent these men and women here have sent their finest," he told the crowd that filled the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. "The communities they represent expect - no, they demand-the very best from them."
He reminded the new officers that their perspectives on justice might be radically different from that of the people they will encounter on the streets.
"Their reality may be different than our worldview. We have to keep that in mind," he said. "Do not apply justice from your opinion...apply justice based on the legal principles of the Constitution."
And Monahan urged compassion on the job.
"You lose respect when you demand respect," he said. "A warrior's spirit, a servant's heart-that's policing today."
Prescott Valley Police Recruit Cameron Loughmiller was awarded the first Tyler J. Stewart Honor Recruit Award.
Flagstaff Police Officer Stewart, a new Academy graduate-Class 36- who had been on the force less than a year was killed in the line of duty Dec. 27, 2014 when he was shot by Robert Smith, who then turned the gun on himself.
Loughmiller, 30, was struggling to keep from tearing up as he accepted the award.
"I hope I can honor that award as best as I can," he said. "I greatly appreciate it. I'm honored."
The impact of the award, named as it is for an officer gunned down early in his career, did not escape Loughmiller, who said, "You have to come to peace with that.
My family has to realize that I have accepted that possible outcome. You never know what's around that next corner," he added.
His mother, Cindy, said Loughmiller wanted to be a police officer "almost forever," adding that he had a relative who is sheriff's deputy and that helped seal the deal.
"He has really been dedicated," she said. "He will give his life for anyone. That's just the man he is."
Present at the ceremony was Tyler's father, Department of Public Safety Sgt. Frank Stewart, who received a shadowbox with memorabilia assembled by Class 39, a photo montage of Tyler, and a check for $3,000 for the foundation in memory of his son.
As he presented the shadowbox to Frank, Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy recruit Victor Belotti said, "One thing I've learned is, you don't choose when your time comes. You choose how you want to be remembered."
Prescott Police recruit Ian Winski said he wanted to become a police officer for some time.
"When I was younger, I always thought the police would be a cool job," he said, "but it wasn't really until I joined the Explorer program that I realized that I could help a lot of people."
Winski also realizes that the job can be dangerous, especially since each day in classes they honored fallen officers and in "a lot of our classes, we talk about how you could potentially end up like that.
"I trust my training," he continued. "We have excellent instructors."
The 18-week class will be extended to 20 weeks, beginning with Class 40 in January, said Prescott Police Lt. Jon Brambila.
"It's a lot," he said. "There's so much more that we're trying to get into the academies on a basic level."
The recruits will now work with Field Training Officers to learn the specifics of how their departments do things and gain real-world experience.
Follow Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy. Call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2038 or 928-642-7705.