Gov. Justice honors graduates of West Virginia State Police’s 68th Cadet Class; participates in bell-ringing to commemorate lives lost in 9/11 attacks

9/11/2020

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CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice spoke at a graduation ceremony today for the West Virginia State Police’s 68th Cadet Class.

The event, which was held in the theater of the State Culture Center in Charleston, celebrated the successful graduation of 32 new cadets from the West Virginia State Police training course. It marked the third State Police cadet class graduation since November 2018. Before that, the WVSP had not graduated any new cadet classes for nearly four full years.

The course includes hundreds of hours of training in subjects like defensive tactics, firearms, criminal law, traffic law, crash investigation, crime scene investigation, cultural diversity, and emotional intelligence.

“I know you’re ready to go, but you’re ready to go at the most turbulent time that you could most possibly have,” Gov. Justice said. “You’ve got a lot of folks in the wilderness out there that are willing to throw rocks, or bricks, or a bottle of water, or whatever at you and it’s not right, but you can look at where you’re going as either the glass half-full or the glass half-empty.

“I would challenge you to think that it is an honor beyond belief to be you today. I mean, you didn’t sign up for the easy stuff,” Gov. Justice continued. “Really and truly, you signed up to be who you are at a time when really and truly there’s an assault on our police forces. There’s a divide, there are issues all around you, there are challenges beyond belief. And you gotta handle it.

“I’ll promise you, to God above, if you will look at the situation and the circumstances that have happened as an honor, you will be not only loved, but you will become our heroes as we move forward.”
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In addition to a graduation ceremony, the event also doubled as a ceremony to honor the sacrifices made and the lives lost in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“What a solemn day,” Gov. Justice said. “Nineteen years have just gone by and yet, at least in my life, I can see it all just like it was yesterday – an attack on America.

“We lost nearly 3,000 people,” Gov. Justice continued. “And two of those great people were West Virginians: Paul Ambrose and Mary Lou Hague.”

During the event, Gov. Justice and the parents of Dr. Paul Ambrose rang a ceremonial bell four times in honor of each of the four planes that crashed on that fateful day and all who lost their lives in the attack.
“To the parents of Paul, it was a real honor for me to be able to ring the bell with you,” Gov. Justice said. “I know that your loss is never going to go away. But you've got to know that you're surely not alone.”

West Virginia State Police Colonel Jan Cahill said that WVSP leadership had identified September 11th as a target date for the graduation several months ago.

“When you think of 9/11, September 11th, what a solemn date in our nation’s history,” Col. Cahill said. “We felt like, when you think of 9/11, you think of the first responders – firefighters, paramedics, police officers – folks who ran into the twin towers, and we felt like this day would be fitting to honor those and have our State Police graduation.”
As the graduation event continued, Col. Cahill added that the 68th Cadet Class faced one of the most unique and challenging roads to graduation, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

“You came to our State Police Academy for a few weeks and then COVID-19 hit,” Col. Cahill said. “We had to send you home for a few weeks. We scrambled to come up with a videoconferencing form of training, which went surprisingly well. 

“We brought you back to the academy and, unlike any other cadet class, you stayed there. It was like a true boot camp. You did not go home on Fridays,” Col. Cahill continued. “I really do believe that, within our State Police, the 68th Cadet Class will be remembered for some time.”
“We were the first class ever to spend two months straight on the hill,” said Trooper Dominique Daniels, Class Speaker of the 68th Cadet Class. “For awhile, we were labeled the ‘COVID Class,’ and to some we were known as the campus cadets who learned everything online, but I truly believe we dismissed the ideas some had about us and we are ready to hit the road and make a difference.

“To the 68th Cadet Class, I challenge you to continue to strive for perfection and I challenge you to always place your brothers’ and sisters’ needs above your own,” Trooper Daniels continued. “Never let anything or anyone slow down your achievements. Each morning we are born again and it’s what we do with each day that matters.”

During the ceremony, WVSP leadership also presented awards to distinguished members of the class, including the Valedictorian Award, Perseverance Award, and Outstanding Officer Award.
The new graduates will now begin the Field Training Program at their various detachments across West Virginia.

“No matter if you’re responding to a shooting, domestic, a car accident, or a stolen four-wheeler or chainsaw, or pulling debris out of the highway, respond to each one of those calls like it’s the most important call of your life,” Col. Cahill said. “If you keep that positive mindset, I promise you the public that you protect and serve will love you and you’ll have an amazing career.”

“Do not allow regret to enter your life. Do not look back on your life, five years from now, and think, ‘I could have done more, if only I would have stuck it out,’” Trooper Daniels said to his classmates. “Instead, look back with pride. Look back and be able to say to yourself, ‘It wasn’t easy, but I stuck it out and look what I achieved.’ Make sure your story is one of strength. Make sure your story is one of someone who refused to give up and who refused to settle.

“Keep going. Your future self is begging you.”
Before the conclusion of the event, Gov. Justice took time to salute every man and woman of West Virginia’s newest cadet class.

“I truly love you and I truly really respect all you do,” Gov. Justice said. “Thank you all so much for all the greatness that I know you all are going to do. God bless each and every one of you.”

Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

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