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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A downpour of rain stretched across Gainesville on Tuesday morning as future law enforcement officers finished a chapter of their lives.

Santa Fe College basic recruit law enforcement graduates of the Institute of Public Safety class No. 127 joked and chatted outside of a Santa Fe auditorium waiting for the start of their graduation ceremony. Inside, family and friends talked.

The graduates endured six months of training that taught them everything they needed to know to be law enforcement officers, such as shooting and first aid.

Joshua Wallace, 21, said the training was long but made him feel prepared for the future.

“I wanted to serve (my country) in some way but still stay locally,” he said.  

The graduates went through 770 hours of training during their time at the academy, describing it as challenging but rewarding.

Through it all, they bonded together, he said.

“It’s unity through shared misery,” said Alex Acosta, a 23-year-old Marine Corps veteran.

As the ceremony began, Associate Director Robert Dolan said a prayer asking God to help and protect the graduates.

“I ask that you bless them with wisdom,” he prayed.  “Wisdom when it comes to dealing with people different from them and the situations that they may face as law enforcement officers.”

Florida State Rep. Clovis Watson, Jr., also attended the ceremony.  

“It is you who will keep the community safe,” the Santa Fe criminal justice technology alumni  told the graduates.

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He also warned them of the challenges they will face as officers.

“You will be the most needed and the most unwanted,” he said. 

But the sentiment didn’t scare Thomas Stanfield.  

“I’m not worried,” the 23-year-old said.  “It’s just making me want to do it more.”

In an address Wallace gave during the ceremony, he thanked his instructors, reflected on their training and talked of their futures.

“The sheep pretend the wolf will never come,” Wallace said at the end of his speech.  “But the sheepdog lives for that day. We are the sheepdogs.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/18/2015 under the headline “Santa Fe law enforcement cadets celebrate graduation"]

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