In describing the 26-week, mettle-testing experience that is the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy, recruit Jacob Wiggs used phrases such as “a lot of yelling,” “physical discipline,” “pure chaos,” and “expected perfection.”
But Wiggs, president of Basic Academy Class 238 and newly sworn Santa Ana police officer, also said, “It was a long process that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Wiggs is one of six new Santa Ana police officers who were among the 49 graduates to receive badges from their respective agencies during the Class 238 graduation ceremony held Nov. 21 at the Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin.
“On June 10, we marched into the academy compound with tactical staff hungry and waiting for us,” said Wiggs, delivering the president’s address in front of the hundreds of relatives and supporters in attendance.
Along with being nominated as class president by his fellow recruits, Wiggs received the Outstanding Officer Award and was recognized for having for high scores in arrest and control techniques testing, practical application tests, and written examinations.
Other Santa Ana officers who graduated from Class 238 are Tanner Bell, who was Delta Squad and guidon bearer; Dominic Dominguez, Emilio Mondragon, Jesse Smith, and David Weld.
“We quickly realized that if we were going to make it through this academy without getting disciplined at every turn, we would have to come together,” Wiggs said. “We came from completely different walks of life with different upbringings and different careers that brought us here, but nevertheless we learned to work as a team and utilize the strength of each person.”
For these reasons, Wiggs said, the motto of Class 238 was “No sacrifice too great.”
Wiggs also thanked the tactical staff for pushing recruits to their limits and never accepting mediocrity.
While delivering the keynote address to the graduates, Assistant Sheriff Bill Baker told the new officers to treat every citizen with the same level of respect.
“You do what you have to do. You do what you’ve been trained to do, and do what we expect you to do to keep yourself, your partners, and the community safe from harm,” said Baker, a 33-year member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “But once the danger has passed and the suspect is in custody and the scene is Code 4, you treat your victims, witnesses, suspects, and the public the way you would have others treat you. You speak to them the way you want to be spoken to. Remember, respect is earned, not given.”
Following the ceremony, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin hosted a welcoming reception in an academy conference room for his agency’s new officers and the dozens of relatives who watched their loved ones graduate and take their oath.
“Seeing all the families is what is special,” Valentin said. “This is overwhelming in terms of presence and support.
The chief also welcomed all the relatives to the Santa Ana Police Department family.
“It’s not just about the individual awards but what they do as a team,” Valentin said. “This is a team environment and a team career. They are going to be part of a very proud organization.”