For six months, police recruits of Class 239 were pushed to their limits at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin.
It was a journey of academic, physical, and emotional development that resulted in 52 graduates who were ready to become the newest members of the law enforcement community.
Members of every graduating class at the OCSD academy endure lessons in crime-fighting techniques, physical drills, and firing weapons.
The graduation ceremony for Basic Academy Class 239 was held Feb. 26 at the academy in front of a crowd that included family members and supporters, dignitaries, and fellow peace officers.
“This is a calling, not a job,” keynote speaker retired Chief Robert Castro said. “You are now among the elite society of law enforcement…If you make a mistake, admit that mistake immediately because we are responsible for every action that we do.”
The 52 recruits took to the stage individually to meet a commanding officer from their department and have their badges pinned onto their uniforms by loved ones. The audience also got a glimpse into the academy as a video of the recruits played.
Among the graduates of Class 239, were officers and deputies from a variety of law enforcement agencies in Southern California, including Tustin Police Department’s new hire, Sierra Stabile.
“Even though the academy is over and that is something to celebrate and to be proud of, it’s just the beginning,” Stabile said. “I’m excited to work hard and I’m very thankful to be with Tustin throughout the whole process, because this department has been so supportive.”
Stabile said her journey to graduate from the academy has been a process.
While going through the academy the first time, she unknowingly fractured her femur but continued to push through physical workouts until she found out what had happened.
Due to the fracture, she had to put the academy on hold and worked as a TPD dispatcher until she was cleared to re-enroll into the academy six months later.
When she returned to the academy, she was more determined than ever to make it through — and she did.
“She is so dedicated, she went back to the academy and she dominated it,” Tustin Police Sgt. Matt Nunley said. “She placed very high (and) was very respected by her peers. She’s going to be a great cop.”
However, Stabile isn’t the only officer that will be calling the TPD her new home.
As will Jake Melia.
“It’s a family here that I’ve noticed and it’s evident as I’ve gone through the hiring process with them,” Melia said.
Melia graduated from a different academy than Stabile, but was hired by the TPD at the same time.
The Department held a small swearing-in ceremony for the new officers on the morning of the graduation.
“Congratulations, we’re very excited that you’re here,” Chief Stu Greenberg said. “All these folks are here to welcome you into what I think is one of the best law enforcement families in probably the country.”
Melia grew up in a public service-oriented family. His mother was an ER nurse and his father was a firefighter, so the decision to become a police officer wasn’t a hard one to make.
Melia said he always wanted to get into public service. He started working on an ambulance, but soon found policing to be of interest.
Both Melia and Stabile agreed that they are most excited to start serving the community of Tustin.
“I’m really excited to get out there and be one of those people that can just do little things to make the (department) look good and to be the person that changes people’s minds,” Stabile said.