Officer James Bupp presents certificates to Lauren Day, left, and Kelly Rutland.
By THOMAS MICHALSKI
PINELLAS PARK - Fourteen recruits graduated recently from the city’s Civilian Police Academy after an extensive 15-week course that covered various phases of law enforcement.
The graduates received certificates from Chief Doreen Thomas and Officer James Bupp, civilian police coordinator, during ceremonies at police headquarters.
Six students additionally were commended for special awards in communications, investigations and traffic.
“We are extremely proud of these people who will be an asset to the community,” Thomas said. “They will help tear down the so-called mysteries behind the walls of the police department.”
Thomas said the civilian police “will forge a partnership with the rest of the community.”
“They have taken the time to learn about law enforcement,” she said, “and they now will take the time to help the citizens of our great community.”
Bupp, a 10-year veteran patrol officer, said the department sponsors two classes annually. Fourteen of the 25 who began the 15-week course actually graduated.
“Applicants must pass a background check, stress analysis examination and the course itself,” Bupp said.
They are assigned to different divisions to handle data processing and other clerical work. Eventually they also can work in traffic control, investigations and code enforcement.
“They have saved the city untold dollars by donating their time,” Bupp said.
The unit enjoys support from the business community. Scott Buick donates two new marked patrol cars every 3,500 miles while Wal-Mart and others provide other needs.
“I just want to serve my community,” said new graduate Celeste Tingler whose husband, Charles, is a civilian officer.
She and her quarter horse, “Dream,” will join the police posse that is involved in various events throughout the year.
Barbara Kalevich, whose Arabian/Saddle Bred mix is a national champion, also will join the posse.
“Reflexx-Axxion is my best buddy,” she said. “This wonderful horse has taught me patience and love.”
Horses must undergo extensive testing and evaluation before they can don police colors.
Another new graduate, Lauren Day, 21, said she joined the civilian police “so I can help people.”
Bupp said the graduates attended classes on such topics as traffic control and investigations. They also tour the Pinellas County Jail, the state’s attorney’s office and other law enforcement facilities.
Bob Waggoner, president of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, also welcomed the graduates. His group has raised money for the Cancer Society and other programs.
The new graduates are Cristi Curd, Lauren Day, Karen Feder, Carol Hanks, Linda Howald, Patti Johnson, Barbara Kalevich, Cookie Lundgren, Carol Mills, Zandra Pearson, Kelly Rutland, Celeste Tingler, Linda Wilke and Gus Zeidler.
Hanks, Howald, Lundgren and Zeidler each received an award for investigation techniques while Day and Wilke were respectively cited for communications and traffic skills.
The dates of the new class are not yet determined, but Bupp said interested persons can contact him at police headquarters or check the Pinellas Park Web site.