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17 'Sheepdog' Cadets Graduate from Law Enforcement Academy

17 'Sheepdog' Cadets Graduate from Law Enforcement Academy photo 7/1/2017 9:57:39 a.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Kelly Farrell - Hobbs News Sun]

The Southeastern New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy graduated 17 self-described “sheepdogs” following months of training during a celebratory ceremony Friday.

Lea County Event Center’s banquet hall filled with supportive family members, friends and colleagues of the latest graduates of SNMLEA at New Mexico Junior College. Class A-17-38 marked the 38th session of the academy and its cadets represented seven agencies from around the state, whose motto is self-explanatory: “There are wolves and there are sheep. We are the sheepdogs.” After badge pinning from parents, children, spouses or friends, cadets took the oath of honor administered by Lovington Magistrate Judge David Finger.

“Over the past 17 weeks, these cadets here today have endured a multitude of physical and emotional challenges,” Walter Coburn, SNMLEA lead instructor, told the audience. “Their strong drive and desire demonstrate their ability to move forward in this chosen profession. Each of these cadets have made the life-altering choice to serve as public servants. They’ve accepted the challenge of preserving and protecting the public’s trust.”

Coburn shared his excitement for his first cadet class’ graduation after they took the oath of honor. He took on the lead instructor role for the academy after his January retirement from the Hobbs Police Department at the rank of sergeant.

“They worked very hard to get where they’re at today and it wasn’t an easy task,” he said. “They all gave forth their best effort.”

Three Hobbs police cadets, Robert Glass, Samir Shah and Yvette Fermin, were singled out with awards for distinguished graduate, firearms and physical fitness, before Hobbs Fire Chief and NMJC Board Member Manny Gomez presented the class with their diplomas. In his address, Glass thanked instructors and volunteers for their time and described cadets learning to work together to overcome “individual weaknesses.”

“We do not know the things that lie ahead, the obstacles we will face or the trials we will have to overcome,” Glass concluded. “But we leave willingly and want to serve and protect the community. There are wolves. There are sheep. And we are the sheepdogs.”

Nine of the cadets hail from Lea County law enforcement agencies. They are: Yvette Fermin, Robert Glass, Nikolas Mann, Isidro Mora, Samir Shah and Rodney Smith, Jr., of the Hobbs Police Department; Michael McKnight and Moises Sanchez of the Lea County Sheriff’s Office; and Nathan Turrubiates of the Lovington Police Department.

Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall was one of several Lea law enforcement officials present for the ceremony and said he is “very proud” of the group and individual accomplishments of the cadets from HPD. “Congratulations to Robert Glass, the distinguished graduate, as well as the firearms award to Samir Shah and (Yvette) Fermin for her physical fitness (award),” he said. “We’re proud of all of them and we look forward to them getting on the street protecting our community and being part of our team.”

The New Mexico agencies represented in Friday’s graduating class are New Mexico State University Police Department, New Mexico Livestock Board, Portales Police Department and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office. Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce gave the keynote speech, while NMJC Dean for the Division of Public Safety, August Fons, presented the class to loud applause.

Kelly Farrell can be reached at 391-5437 or courts@

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