A total of 19 students graduated Thursday night from the first Missouri Sheriffs' Association Training Academy hosted by Mt. Vernon.
Students participated in over 300 hours of classroom learning as well as hands-on training.
Keynote speaker Richard Crites told students in his address, "You are the sheep dogs protecting the flock, and the flock ain't gonna like you. They will hate you when you are late, and they will hate you when you are on time.
"Don't be a bully," he continued. "You will have more power over other people than any human being. We have to win, and that means control."
Lawrence County Reserve Coordinator John Goulbourne commended five of the graduates who responded to the May 22 tornado that devastated Joplin. Cody W. Holder, Cody R. Hughes, Traci Lupe, Brittani Matschiner and Melissa E. Stanford were honored for their volunteerism and professionalism.
Graduate Richard C. Corbett was honored with the distinctions of perfect attendance, honor graduate, class president and valedictorian. Matthew M. Burkhead graduated with the distinction of perfect attendance and salutatorian. Justin M. Hatcher was honored with perfect attendance and high firearms proficiency. Michael W. Hawkins, Jeremy J. Hernandez, Jamie M. Borich, Michael T. Mallow, Levi J. Mareth and Timothy G. Mayes all received certificates of perfect attendance.
Other graduates included Sheila Able-Eden, Shawn P. Carlton, Andrew R. Schnake, Bret R. Taylor and Thomas E. Taylor.
Able-Eden, Holder, Schnake and Stanford will now be working for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.