HELENA – The Montana Law Enforcement Academy graduated their 163rd class on Friday at the Helena Regional Airport.

The 51 new officers who graduated Friday morning will serve 31 different agencies across the state.

Of the new graduates, two officers will join the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department and three will join the Helena Police Department.

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All five will start at their respective patrol divisions after finalizing their remaining training with their departments.

KTVH had the chance to speak with the new graduates and get their take on what they believe is the most important thing about serving as law enforcement.

“The most important thing, I believe that an officer does for their community, is to serve and protect those around them, who are in need,” said HPD officer Mandi Peterson.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Neil Marks said, “I think the most important thing is still giving back to the community. The community counts on us to help keep them safe, stop crimes prevent crime.”

Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion, who spoke at the ceremony, commended the graduates for their service to others through careers in law enforcement.

Several officers were also recognized for their performance during their time at the Law enforcement Academy.

John Harrington received the Don Williams Award, which is given to the officer elected by the class as Class Representative. The award is given in memory of Thompson Falls Police Chief Don Williams, who was killed in the line of duty in 1974.

Zach Rush received the Jeff Douglass Health and Physical Fitness Award, which is given to the officer(s) in each class who participates and excels in the Hard Rock Challenge and achieves the class’s best score in the Montana Physical Abilities Test.

Mariah Perry received the Paul Williams Award, which is given to the officer in each class who has provided great inspiration to the staff and students through a display of unwavering dedication and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Chouteau County Sheriff Paul Williams.

Brock Boll received the Jack Wiseman Award, which is given to the officer in each class who is selected by his peers as the most outstanding officer. The officers of each class select the recipient by pondering two questions: 1) If you were a law enforcement agency administrator, who would you most want to hire? 2) If it were 2 a.m. and things were going bad quickly, who would you most want to know was coming to help you? The award is given in tribute to Jack Wiseman, who served as a training officer and commander at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 22 years.

Roy Scott received the Joe May Award, which is given to the officer in each class who displays exceptional leadership and an incredible sense of motivation. The award is given in honor of the late Joe May, one of the people credited with the conception and creation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.

Christopher Moldenhauer received the Glenn Janes Award, which is given to the student in each class who demonstrates the highest level of proficiency in the Police Vehicle Operation Course. The award is given in memory of the late Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Glenn Janes, who served as a driving instructor at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.

Brandon Gale received the Jimmy Kaaro award, which is given to the officer who achieves the highest level of academic standing in each class.  The award is given in honor of retired Fergus County Sheriff Jimmy Kaaro.

Jacob Scavone received the Josh Rutherford Award, which is given to the officer in each class who achieves the highest scores in defensive tactics. The award is given in memory of Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Josh Rutherford, who was a defensive tactics instructor with the Montana Law Enforcement Academy when he lost his life in the line of duty in 2003.

Matthew Zadigan received the Alex Mavity Award, which is given to the student from each class who achieves the highest accumulated score on all academic and skills-based training. The award is given in honor of Billings Police Department Detective Alex Mavity, who was killed in the line of duty in 1989.

Richard McCann received the Hal Vogelsang Award, which is given to the officer in each class who displays the highest degree of fidelity as determined by the academy staff. The recipient has demonstrated exceptional qualities of honor, pride, integrity, duty, loyalty, and service to not only the class but the staff and entire profession. The award is given in honor of Hal Vogelsang, who served as an FBI special agent for more than 36 years and as a training officer at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy for more than 25 years.

Matthew Zadigan received the Allen Kimery Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding marksmanship and the class’s highest ranking in firearms training through marksmanship, safety, and tactical proficiency. The award is given in memory of Missoula County Sheriff Deputy Allen Kimery, who was killed in the line of duty in 1984.

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