Graduation ceremonies return to normal after lengthy hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions
After two years without a proper graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Miami-Dade Police Department presented BLE #133 in an open-air setting on Thursday, May 26, 2022, a steady breeze fluttering the Stars and Stripes and the class flag.
It was the ideal setting for the times, under a large shade canopy at the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Headquarters in Doral, a return to how things were prior to the rigid restrictions that limited graduations to small, private affairs.
The 35 new officers were presented with their families present, and surrounded by the Department’s Command Staff, and the Drill Instructors and Training Instructors who shaped them during their time in the academy. The crowd of approximately 300 sat side-by-side and cheered as the new officers crossed the stage and shook the hands of Deputy Director Stephanie V. Daniels and Interim Director George A. Perez. It was the first class that Director Perez swore in since taking the helm on Monday, February 21, 2022. The last graduation ceremony that included family and friends occurred on Thursday, February 6, 2020, with BLE #125.
Prior to the hour-long ceremony, the class gathered together to listen to a personal message from Major Carlos Gonzalez, the commander of the Miami-Dade Public Safety Training Institute. As the class huddled around him, he encouraged them to remain brave, dedicated to duty, and to never forget the sacrifices of their family in supporting them.
After that pep talk, Officer Donovan Miller exclaimed, “I’m ready to get this going!” His classmate Officer Jonathan Carmona, responded “I’ve been waiting for this day too man!”
The class started training on Monday, June 28, 2021, but twice, training was halted, and they were put into COVID protocol, after several recruits tested positive. The flare-ups occurred months apart, and both times they were sent home for two weeks. Retesting took an additional two week, so each delay was a month, with the total delay time being two months.
“The COVID shutdowns were a real challenge, but we made it through and now we are ready to serve the community,” said Officer Kim Nguyen, whose first assignment will be at the South District. “It feels great, our class is truly blessed.”
“Community” was a theme in speeches during the ceremony, from Class Leader, Officer Princess Chavers during her class address, to Miami-Dade County Public Safety Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III, to Interim Director George A. Perez.
In referring to the training that the officers received by the Drill Instructors and Training Instructors, Director Perez said, “The greatest tool of all they have given you is mindset, the mindset of a guardian and of a warrior, and this community will expect you to be both.”
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