Mike Afalava, a Killeen Police Department Police Academy graduate, receives his badge during his graduation and swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Killeen Police Department Police Academy basic officer course graduates take the oath of office during their graduation and swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
April Jones, a Killeen Police Department Police Academy basic officer course graduate, gets a kiss from her husband, John Jones ,during her graduation and swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Joshua Cummings, a Killeen Police Department Police Academy basic officer course graduate, takes the oath of office with fellow graduates during his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday.

By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald

Officer Daniel Laffin, president of Killeen Police Department’s 15th cadet class, issued a challenge Tuesday to the officers who will train newly graduated cadets in the field.

“Teach us, challenge us, mentor us,” Laffin said. “Make us the kind of officers you want on your side.”

Laffin’s challenge came at the end of the department’s graduation ceremony at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center for the largest cadet class to graduate from the KPD Police Academy’s basic officer course. Friends and family pinned badges on 24 newly minted officers.

They will now undergo a 17-week field-training program that will pair them with an officer on the street. Gradually, officers will become more and more independent until they are fully trained and prepared to patrol the streets of Killeen solo.

When KPD announced it was hiring new officers, the department received more than 400 applications. After an extensive application process, background checks, tests, courses, physical training and exams, evaluators whittled away would-be officers to the 24 officers who took the service oath Tuesday.

Eleven officers are set to enter the police academy this fall. If all 11 pass, KPD will only have one remaining vacancy.

“It’s a special day for us,” KPD Chief Dennis Baldwin said after the ceremony.

Graduating Tuesday were Mike L. Afalava, Brett A. Boynton, Anthony D. Bridgewater, David C. Caudle, Justin K. Coleman, Joshua L. Cummings, Marida D. Douglas, John R. Edwards, Danice M. Emery, Danielle L. Fanning, Micah A. Glandon, Teresa M. Godina, Micah D. Goodrich, Linda M. Gordon, April R. Jones, Daniel S. Laffin, Kellye A. McDermott, Mario Montalvo, Kyle M. Moore, Jonathan K. Mueller, Kyle R. Perrow, Justyn M. Ruehlen, Jeanne L. Rust and Jeremy J. Wagner.

Bridgewater won Top Gun, for best shooting during the academy. Jones won Top Academics for best grades during the academy. Laffin was elected class president for showing strong leadership skills.

Laffin, 41, said after the ceremony that he will take as much of the department in as he can before deciding which direction he wishes to take his law enforcement career. Though he did indicate he has an interest joining the SWAT team.

“It’s a new career for us,” Laffin said during his speech. “And we found out that police work is no career; it is a way of life.”