MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The first class to complete the Combat Center Marine Corps Police Academy, sponsored by the Provost Marshal’s Office, advanced into the police officer ranks and received their badges during a graduation ceremony at the Protestant Chapel July 8, 2008.
During the ceremony, Geffrey Cooper, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputy and retired Marine Corps colonel, spoke as the guest speaker to the new police officers about their jobs and gave them a few tips that will help them stay on top of their game.
“Always remember to keep a sense of humor,” said Cooper, a native of Joshua Tree, Calif. “You will hear every excuse in the book, and you must always remain professional.”
Family members made their way to the front of the chapel to pin their loved one’s badges on their chest signifying the support they will provide while they continue their careers in law enforcement.
“I’m just happy to be back with a badge,” said Michelle Mills, who used to be a military police officer while serving in the Marine Corps. She waited two years after hearing about the academy until she was accepted into the program. “It is great to finally be here after waiting so long.”
The academy began May 5 with three civilians and one Marine, Master Gunnery Sgt. David Gomez, PMO’s provost sergeant, who enrolled in the academy to become a civilian police officer at the Combat Center once he retires from the Marine Corps in October.
“We have given them the basic tools they need to start with,” said Marshal Palmer, lead instructor for the academy. “They have everything they need to go out and do their job to the highest proficiency.”
Palmer listed the classes they had to complete, which included state, federal and local laws, defensive tactics, weapons qualification, physical fitness, nutrition, professional conduct and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The academy was created Marine Corps-wide to add civilian police officers to the non-deployable military police departments to help rotate military police back to Iraq and Afghanistan without leaving their departments low on manpower.
The Combat Center will add roughly 67 civilian police officers to PMO’s ranks until fiscal year 2011, creating a gradual 50 percent conversion to civilian police officers.
The officers fully integrated in PMO will be considered General Service employees. This gives former Marines and civilians who meet all requirements the opportunity to be hired as a police officer for the base.
Before being admitted to the academy, candidates must complete a physical fitness test, pass a medical and physical exam, and pass a psychological test. They must also have at least one year of law enforcement or security force experience.
Upon completion of the course, the civilians will have all the same duties as the Marines working at PMO. To continue their services, they must pass a physical fitness test twice a year.
The graduated class will hit the streets and start patrolling the Combat Center with their Marine counterparts July 9, 2008.