VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office held its 41st Basic Academy graduation ceremony Friday, welcoming 15 new deputies.
One third of the graduates have college degrees, ranging from associate’s to master’s degrees, and nearly one-fourth served in the military, including the Army, Marine Corps and Navy. They come from as far away as Sicily and have various past careers, including work in education, retail, contracting and private security. Four have previous law enforcement experience.
Virginia Beach Del. Rocky Holcomb, who represents the 85th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, delivered the commencement address. He spoke to the graduates from firsthand experience, having served 25 years in the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office.
“I was looking for a home. I was looking for a career,” Del. Holcomb said. “I found it here at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office.”
Holcomb imparted words of wisdom he’s received from his law enforcement mentors throughout his career: Be early, keep your uniform clean and pressed and your boots shined, practice your shooting and your defensive tactics and don’t gossip.
“Be loyal to your badge,” he said. “Be loyal to your oath” to serve and protect.
The 16-week Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office Basic Academy includes training in Virginia law, ethics, cultural diversity, firearms, defensive tactics, emergency vehicle operations and first aid. The graduates also completed physical fitness training and courses pertaining to the Sheriff’s Office various functions: Corrections, court transportation and security and civil process.
Each graduate successfully met the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ requirements for graduation and have received their Basic Jailer and Civil Process certifications.
Together, the recruits made it through 110 days, nine exams and much more, said Deputy Robert Rice, the class president.
“As a team we came together and have endured this long road,” Deputy Rice said. “In this family, no one fights alone.”
The deputies will be assigned to the Virginia Beach Correctional Center and bring the number of active, sworn Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office deputies to 424.
Sheriff Ken Stolle congratulated the graduates. He also discussed recent events in Charlottesville, condemning racism and violence in all forms.
“What happened this past weekend in Charlottesville was inexcusable. It was an embarrassment and it was a tragedy,” Sheriff Stolle said. “What I saw in Charlottesville is the greatest threat to this community and this state that I have ever seen.”
He said he is concerned for the future of the country, but not for the futures of the deputies who graduated today. He thanked them for stepping up to serve, protect and enforce the law.
“I expect you to enforce those laws fairly, professionally and ethically,” Sheriff Stolle said. “I want to welcome you to our family and together we can face these challenges.”