by Diane VanDyke
Thirty police cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on Nov. 14 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Auditorium, 340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell.
The graduates of Class 1202 included Stephen Andrews (Richboro), Gregory Borgmann (Warminster), Raymond Brook (Maple Glen), Michael Choiniere (Gilbertsville), David Clouser (Quakertown), Richard Dean (Yardley), Shalako Drabinksy (Chalfont), Kevin Furman (Newtown Square), Eric Honick (Conshohocken), Jason Howell (Limerick), Erik Iochum (Abington), Joseph Jennings (Churchville), Salvatore LaMantia (Yardley), Michael Lanzafame (Philadelphia), Bryan Lukens (Whitemarsh), Scott Lukens (Plymouth Meeting), David Malischewski (Perkasie), Joseph O’Mara (Lower Gwynedd), Stephen Pimm (Ambler), Michael Pinciotti (Newtown), Benjamin Romanowicz (Bensalem), Benjamin Scott (Pennsburg), Brian Seibert (Worcester), Jennifer Smith (Abington), Kevin South (Morrisville), Rafael Stoppazzollo (Philadelphia), Michael Theiss (Tuckerton, N.J.), Michael Verrillo (Warrington), Anthony Vogel (Horsham) and Zachary Wise (Phoenixville).
Valedictorian Sgt. Stephen Pimm earned the Sgt. James R. Miller Marksmanship award, and Lt. Bryan Lukens earned the Leadership Award. Sgt. Richard Dean was awarded the Spirit of Distinction Award for his teamwork, discipline, dedication and leadership.
The ceremony started with a moment of silence in respect for fallen Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox, an alumnus of the Police Academy. A chaired draped with his jacket bearing his name was placed next to the podium during the ceremony in his memory
Guest speakers for the evening included Sgt. Ken Hawthorn of the Warrington Township Police Department and Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman also attended.
In his remarks, Hawthorn told the cadets to “be firm but be fair,” and not to dwell on mistakes.
“Remember, your patrol car has a big windshield and a small rearview mirror,” he said. “What’s in front of you is more important than what’s behind you.”
Castor reminded the cadets to “do the right thing” when the moment calls for it. “Being a police officer,” he said, “is not a profession but a calling, a calling to do the right thing for the people of the community.”
During the ceremony, the McGowan family presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to Orwigsburg Borough Police Officer Matthew Fogarty of Royersford. Fogarty graduated from the Police Academy in July 2012 and also serves as an emergency medical technician.
When receiving the scholarship, Fogarty thanked the McGowan family, telling them, “Chief McGowan was the leader I dream of becoming.”
Chief McGowan started his law enforcement career in 1974 with the Lower Moreland Police Department. While working there, he graduated from the FBI National Academy and earned his master’s degree in Criminal Justice from St. Joseph’s University. After his retirement in 1992, he became the police chief and public safety director for East Norriton Township, a position he held until June 18, 2010, when he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident.
In addition to his law enforcement career, McGowan was an academic instructor in the Criminal Justice program at Montgomery County Community College. He also served as past president of the Montgomery County Police Chiefs’ Association and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and was instrumental in establishing the Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Academy Director Frank A. Williar praised Class 1202, stating that the members of this class are definitely people he would recommend to safeguard his family and the community.
Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken, PA 19428.
The Academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,200 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 96 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Williar, a 1974 Police Academy graduate, was hired as the Academy Director in 2005. The Academy is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission.
Photos by John Welsh