Police cadets determined to make a difference, despite the murder of one of their own

Dozens of police recruits are undergoing intense training at the Harrison County Law Enforcement Academy.
Updated: May. 9, 2019 at 4:26 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of police recruits are undergoing intense training at the Harrison County Law Enforcement Academy. Underlying this training is the murder of one of their own this week as Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen was ambushed and shot to death. Despite the tragic loss, these cadets are determined to move forward and begin their careers protecting and serving.

The cadets have a laser sharp focus on the task at hand, learning to be the best they be, but McKeithen’s death hit them and the instructors hard.

“Unfortunately, the occurrences Sunday evening are a reality in this job. It was a very sobering reminder that was very accurate," said Maj. Louis Elias, director of training.

Every one of the cadets knows the dangers inherent with being a police officer. This class can help reduce that danger.

“We’re trained very well by the instructors here to understand, to constantly be vigilant and ensure that we are being safe, taking care of ourselves, taking care of our partners," said Steven LaMonica.

None of the cadets have changed their minds about the job they will soon undertake, including Katie Hartman.

“I know this is what I want to do, and I’m willing to do what it takes, and if that means one day I may lose my life, it’s worth it to me," she said.

One of the things these 31 cadet did following news of McKeithen’s death was they got together, they banded together, they talked about their feelings because this is something that they really needed to do.

“We all kind of touched together to share our experience of it all because this is something that happens every day and we are kind of coming together as a class," said cadet Rony Polizzi.

They’re also coming together with their own families, knowing now that life is precious, and fleeting, according to LaMonica.

“I’m making sure that I’m setting aside time specifically for my children, making sure that they know they are loved and pouring into them and the same for my wife, making sure I give here the time and attention that she deserves," he said.

These cadets all deserve our respect for pressing on, Elias feels.

“They seemed even more determined than ever to be successful in their careers," he said.

This latest edition of the training academy will run for another 10 weeks.

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