The 11 members of Fitchburg State University’s 6th Recruit Officer Course graduated Friday, Sept. 15, completing their certification to work in municipal police departments in Massachusetts and other states.
All 11 members of the group have already been hired by municipal and collegiate police departments.
The program was developed by Fitchburg State in collaboration with the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC). The members of the 6th ROC graduated with their bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice in May, and days later began a 17-week police academy that concluded with Friday’s ceremony and also marked the start of their master’s degrees in criminal justice.
Graduate Jonathan Revil of Bridgewater gave the class address, in which he recounted the 6th ROC’s beginnings amid the COVID pandemic, when they stood at attention in front of their computer cameras. There were 55 members of the class at that time, of whom only 11 were still in the program by the graduation on Friday. Those 11 quickly became one team, he said.
“We have been challenged physically, mentally and academically,” Revil said. “I can proudly say I would go to any call with any of the 10 brothers and sisters sitting before me today.”
University President Richard S. Lapidus recognized the students for successfully completing the challenging curriculum and strict standards by which they had to abide throughout their time in the program. “Fifty-five students started the program with you as freshmen, and today we graduate only 11, all of which have been hired prior to this graduation,” President Lapidus said. ““It’s a credit to all of you that you kept your focus through unprecedented times.”
MPTC Executive Director Robert Ferullo congratulated the graduates on their achievement and said they personify the future of the profession.
“You folks are the ones who are going to make a difference,” Ferullo said. “Go out and fix the wrongs. You guys are educated, future police leaders. You’ll be the ones who will be driving the law enforcement community.”
He noted the fact that departments were eager to hire them as well-trained officers. “You all have jobs,” he said. “What other job in the world are people knocking on your door to hire you?”
In her address, Academy Director Lisa Lane McCarty compared police officers to superheroes, whose superpower was sacrificing time with loved ones and risking their own personal safety to protect others. She recalled growing up the daughter of a police officer (retired Pepperell Police Officer Thomas Lane) and the milestones he missed in order to serve his community. “Normal people aren’t willing to do this,” she said. “Only superheroes do this.”
The ceremony included awards to members of the class, including a new award in honor of Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr., who was killed in the line of duty on May 22, 2016. The award was presented to 6th ROC member Parker Luther of Sudbury by the fallen officer’s parents, Ron and Sharon Tarentino, and his sister, Caitlin.
A special award was presented to State Rep. Michael Kushmerek, who participated in physical training with the recruits during the academy so he could learn more about how the recruits are prepared. He has been a vocal advocate for the program and its importance to the evolution of police training.
“He truly was a large part of the spirit and the soul of the 6th ROC,” said Lane.
At the ceremony, which was attended by guests including family and friends of the graduates as well as police leaders and elected officials, University Police Chief Michael J. Cloutier administered the oath of honor:
“On my honor, I will never betray my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always maintain the highest ethical standards and uphold the values of my community and the agency I serve.”
The members of the 6th ROC, and the departments that have hired them, are: Joshua Barber of Sandwich (hired by Yarmouth Police Department); Noah Buentello of Hopkinton (hired by Hopkinton Police Department); Jonathan Butler of Worcester (hired by Franklin Police Department); Grace Kerr of Holliston (hired by the Fitchburg State University Police Department); Joseph Lamarca of Billerica (hired by the Billerica Police Department); Parker Luther of Sudbury (hired by the Franklin Police Department); Andrew Morris of Ludlow (hired by the Fitchburg State University Police Department); Jonathan Revil of Bridgewater (hired by the Bridgewater Police Department); Elizabeth Scott of Yarmouth (hired by the Yarmouth Police Department); Phillip Sloan of Mansfield (hired by the Foxborough Police Department); and Martin Zimei of Leominster (hired by the Franklin Police Department).