New Deputy Sheriffs Grow Together at Penn State-Run Academy

The newest class of 39 Pennsylvania sheriffs deputies will graduate on Friday, November 18th from the Pennsylvania Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Education and Training Program conducted by the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute. Left to right: William Banks of the York County Sheriff’s Office; Larissa McGhee, Deputy Sheriff for Center County; and Ian Cooper of the Berks County Sheriff’s Office. Photo by Dave White | Pennsylvania.

UNIVERSITY PARK — The newest class of Pennsylvania deputy sheriffs will return to their home communities ready to serve on Friday after graduating from the Penn State-run Commonwealth Training Academy.

During the 19-week program, the diverse group of 39 cadets “became one family,” said class leader William Banks.

The retired US Marine from York County said the conclusion will be emotional after the group has grown so close. Many of his classmates affectionately called him “Father” during their training time together. Banks said he is proud of what the group has achieved.

“This platoon came together quickly to do what we needed to do despite the differences in views, likes and dislikes,” Banks said. “You have so many people from so many backgrounds and we all came together with a common goal. This is to serve the people of the Commonwealth.”

The Pennsylvania Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff Education and Training Program, administered by the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI), trains newly hired sheriffs and deputy sheriffs from all 67 counties of Pennsylvania. The academy, held at the State College, offers classes in several areas of law enforcement, including Pennsylvania criminal codes and civil procedure, cultural diversity, ethics, firearms, first responders/first aid, defensive tactics, courtroom safety, and physical training.

It was his passion for serving his community that brought class president Ian Cooper to the Academy after many years in education.

“My heart has always been in law enforcement and being able to make a difference in my community,” Cooper said. He said the education he received at the academy will help him do that when he returns to the Berks County Sheriff’s Office after graduation.

“It was a great experience from top to bottom,” said Cooper. “I learned a lot more than I thought. Through all of this, I feel like I definitely have the knowledge to go back and carry out my duties without hesitation. I think that’s the whole goal of the academy, so they prepared us really well for when we go back home.”

Like Banks, he said the platoon benefited from the varied ages and backgrounds of the cadets.

“It just went to show that no matter where you are in life, if that’s what you really want, there’s a way to get into the field,” Cooper said.

The graduating class will be their 64th since the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquecy elected Penn State JASI as the academy’s administrator in 2000. sheriffs and deputy sheriffs; Judge; lawyers; and local, state, and federal law enforcement officers help conduct the training.

For Larissa McGhee, a Center County deputy sheriff, the academy was an opportunity to expand her criminal justice studies. The Penn State undergraduate student took a semester off to complete his education. She said she expects to feel a deep sense of accomplishment during the graduation ceremony.

“A lot of people in the class have military experience before, so they’ve done similar things, but I’ve never done anything like this, so it’s pretty exciting. I look forward to getting back to work with what I’ve learned,” said McGhee. “I’ll apply things I’ve learned here every day.”

Visit Penn State’s JASI website for more information.

Penn State JASI, a Penn State outreach service, works with the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs.

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