Nine join police force

Published 10:37 pm Friday, August 22, 2014

New Suffolk police officers pose for photos after their badge-pinning ceremony on Friday. The new officers are Haley Brock, John Christmas, Meredith Fetter, Kristi Gaines, Robert Gazsy, Jennifer Parker, Jerad Price, Casey Shreve and Latifah Whitfield.

New Suffolk police officers pose for photos after their badge-pinning ceremony on Friday. The new officers are Haley Brock, John Christmas, Meredith Fetter, Kristi Gaines, Robert Gazsy, Jennifer Parker, Jerad Price, Casey Shreve and Latifah Whitfield.

Nine new police officers joined the Suffolk Police Department with a swearing in by Circuit Court Clerk Randy Carter on Friday morning.

Haley Brock, John Christmas, Meredith Fetter, Kristi Gaines, Robert Gazsy, Jennifer Parker, Jerad Price, Casey Shreve and Latifah Whitfield will begin their careers as police officers next week.

The new officers heard words of encouragement and advice from Vice Mayor Charles Brown, Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts and Majs. Dean Smith and Steve Patterson.

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“You came to a great city, a city that has put safety as a top priority,” Brown told the officers.

He also congratulated the officers on their choice of career and encouraged them to advance, pointing to Patterson and Smith as examples.

“Each and every day, you have an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “They (the majors) were sitting where you are sitting one day. You have an opportunity to be all you can be in our city. Don’t just be a police officer; be one of the very best.”

Roberts thanked the officers for giving their talents to the career of law enforcement and to Suffolk.

“This is a tremendous gift that you gave to the city of Suffolk,” Roberts said. “We’re very proud you have chosen Suffolk to do your work.”

Patterson gave the recruits what has become the standard advice from the department’s leaders at such ceremonies: Be honest; Learn from your mistakes; Find mentors within the department.

“We expect the truth from you,” Patterson said. “Don’t make the same mistake twice. Finally, find some mentors. Surround yourself with people that are going to help you.”

The nine officers are recent graduates of the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy, where they learned the basics of law enforcement. They now enter their post-academy phase, where they learn about how law enforcement is done in Suffolk specifically. Following that, they will hit the streets with field training officers for a few weeks to get to what Patterson called the “nuts and bolts” of law enforcement.

“I’m certain they will serve the city of Suffolk with honesty and integrity,” Maj. Smith said.