The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy graduated its third class, consisting of 22 newly-minted law enforcement officers, two weeks ahead of schedule.
“As concerns of COVID-19 escalated, academy staff accelerated the training curriculum and covered all of the entry level objectives and requirements set forth by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission and COMAR,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a release.
Graduates will serve in the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Hampstead Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland Police Department, St. Michael’s Police Department, Towson University Police Department, and the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal.
Training began on Sept. 23 and was originally scheduled to finish on April 3. On the accelerated schedule, graduation was held Thursday, March 19 at the Training Academy located at the former North Carroll High School in a private ceremony with only the recruits, academy staff, and Sheriff Jim DeWees in attendance.
The six graduates for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office are Deputy Krystal Bopst, Deputy Maxwell Chassagne, Deputy Teri O’Donoghue, Deputy Sarah Rolla, Deputy Tyler Sitarek, and Deputy Jessica Snyder. O’Donoghue, Rolla, Sitarek, and Snyder are all graduates of Carroll County Public Schools.
Graduates started a two-week period of leave following graduation and will then begin their field training.
Snyder came to the academy after first earning a chemistry degree and not being satisfied with the work she was doing after school. She had been interested in forensics and criminal justice course work, and decided she wanted to seek out work where she could “have more of an impact in the community rather than behind the scenes in a lab,” she said.
As a 2013 graduate of North Carroll High School, Snyder said it was weird to see it used in a different context as a training academy. Days where the recruits were Tased or pepper spray were difficult, but another challenge was to work together.
“You’re in a whole new environment with all these people you don’t know,” she said. “Nothing is individual, everything is teamwork.”
Graduating into a pandemic is an anxious and uncertain time. Snyder said it was a little shocking to graduate early but she is thankful that they were able to, unlike some other training classes who were not as far into their training. She was looking looking forward to “getting out on the road and getting my feet wet" but it’s disconcerting to graduate then be put in a kind of holding pattern.
Sitarek, who graduated from Century High School, comes from a family with many current and retired members of law enforcement, and knew it was something he wanted to do from a young age. Because of the circumstances, many of those folks were not able to attend his graduation.
Training “tested us mentally and physically,” he said. “We all kind of came together through that. It was challenging in a good way.”
Though there were unusual circumstances to his graduation, he is looking forward to getting out on patrol.
“Going into this, it just shows us dealing with certain situations, not normal situations,” he said. “We’ll have to work with other law enforcement an figure out collectively a plan to help others in the community at times like this.”