im Pledger (right), director of GNTC’s Law Enforcement Academy, presents Joshua P. Cole (left) with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship.
Jim Pledger (right), director of GNTC’s Law Enforcement Academy, presents Joshua P. Cole (left) with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship.

(Calhoun, GA) – On Thursday, July 9, friends and family gathered at the Conference Center located at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Gordon County Campus to honor the students graduating from the Law Enforcement Academy.

During the ceremony, 11 law enforcement officers graduated from the program. Advisory board members, chiefs, sheriffs, and fellow law enforcement officers from the Northwest Georgia region and beyond also were in attendance at the ceremony.

The proceedings began with Jim Pledger, director of the Law enforcement Academy at GNTC, welcoming guests and praising students for their achievement.

“So many people in the audience have been a part of this program,” said Pledger. “There are a lot of people here that come and help us as instructors and there are a lot of here in uniform that were sitting on this stage getting ready to graduate a few years ago.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Lt. Jeff W. Vanaman of the Brookhaven Police Department. Vanaman served as a coordinator for GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy from June 2010 to June 2013.

Vanaman began his law enforcement career with the College Park Police Department where he served as a field training officer, member of the Honor Guard, task force officer assigned to the DEA Atlanta Airport Group, general instructor, firearms instructor, range master, sniper team leader, assistant SWAT team commander, and patrol division sergeant.

He has earned intermediate and advanced law enforcement certifications as well as other certifications as a general instructor, firearms instructor, and emergency driving instructor.

Vanaman reminded the graduates to never forget that their main priority is public service.

“The root and the core of this job is serving people,” said Vanaman. “What you do matters and you may never know what impact you have on people.”

Jordan B. DeJesus was the student speaker for the ceremony. Dejesus said that when he and the other recruits started it seemed overwhelming at first, but in the end everything made sense and came together.

“It’s a learning experience the whole way through,” said DeJesus. “I can’t think of a single day that we didn’t take something with us when we went home.”

Joshua P. Cole was presented with the “Top Gun” award for excellence in marksmanship and Jake D. Holley received the Academic (Honor Graduate) Award for having the highest grade point average.

Graduates of GNTC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Class #201501 are:

Joshua P. Cole, Jordan B. DeJesus, Marissa E. Elrod, Jake D. Holley, Christopher B. Johnson, Martin A. Meza, William J. Pledger, Hunter M. J. Quarles, Jose M. Meza Sandoval, Christopher K. Wilkins, and Jason H. Winkles.

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has been instrumental in providing quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. The mission of Georgia Northwestern Technical College is to provide accessible, high quality technical education and workforce development opportunities.  Serving the nine counties of Catoosa; Chattooga; Dade; Floyd; Gordon; Murray; Polk; Walker; and Whitfield, GNTC has five convenient campus locations in Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties. With programs of study in business, health, industrial, and public service available, students have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree, diploma, or a certificate from GNTC.  This past year, 14,562 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 8,249 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fifth largest technical college in the state of Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 6,313 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.