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Published December 17, 2009, 04:34 PM

Peace Officers Graduate Lake Region State College Peace Officer Academy

After 18 long weeks of training, 17 people are now ready to begin their careers in law enforcement. The 53rd graduating class of peace officers got their certificates today at Lake Region State College.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

After 18 long weeks of training, 17 people are now ready to begin their careers in law enforcement. The 53rd graduating class of peace officers got their certificates today at Lake Region State College.

Seventeen proud graduates have now put the Peace Officer Academy behind them as they prepare to start a career in law enforcement. They did CSI and SWAT team training, and they say the academy wasn't easy.

Samantha Fetting/Graduated Today: "Pepper spray-that hurt worse than I ever could imagine!"

During the ceremony graduates saw pictures from the training, got awards for grades, driving, and physical fitness. They also heard some words of wisdom from peace officer Mark Gilbertson.

Mark Gilbertson/Peace Officer: "Law enforcement has been and will continue to be a necessary and noble profession."

Gilbertson shared a slide show honoring peace officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Graduates got their certificates, and the ceremony ended with a prayer. Graduates say the training was tough, but it was all worth it in the end. For valedictorian Tom Bernier, training meant returning to school after ten years in the trucking industry, and being away from his wife in St. Cloud.

Tom Bernier/Graduated Today: "It was a tough decision for my wife and I to basically cut our income in half."

Bernier says his brother is a sergeant in Fargo, and he encouraged him to go for it. He says going through the training may pay off.

Tom Bernier: "I have received a contingent offer from the Fargo Police Department, so hopefully I'll be starting there February 8."

Seven of the graduates had jobs lined up before graduating. Instructors say there are more jobs than there are people to fill them.

The college offers a summer academy in Fargo and will offer one in Grand Forks starting in May of 2010. They're expecting 30 students and the program is only 4 spots short of being filled.

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