Michael Madrid, a new part-time officer for the Colfax Police Department, wants to make a difference some day.
“I’m always looking and hoping to make a difference in someone’s life – even if it’s just one time, if it’s once a week, or if it’s once a day,” he said.
Madrid may get a chance now, either with Colfax or another law enforcement agency, as he was one of 23 graduates of the Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy to receive certification as a law enforcement officer in the state of Wisconsin at a graduation ceremony Friday at the College’s Eau Claire campus.
Among them also was Peter Brazeau, a reserve officer with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department.
The 13-week Academy program consists of a series of classes held five days a week, eight hours a day, leading up to the granting of the certificate needed for employment as a public law enforcement officer in Wisconsin. But it’s not as if just anyone can sign up for the Academy and wear a badge 13 weeks later. A major requirement for admission is a minimum of 60 college-level credits, according to Eric Anderson, associate dean of the Emergency Services programs at CVTC.
Madrid completed the Academy program for the second time. He graduated from CVTC’s law enforcement program six years ago and went through the Academy too, but his certification lapsed when he didn’t work as an officer.
However, Colfax Chief of Police Pete Gehring thought Madrid was good candidate for the department and offered his sponsorship to Madrid for a renewal trip through the Academy program. Madrid has been working as a part-time officer in Colfax.
“I did some ride-alongs with some of the officers,” Madrid said.
Madrid is hopeful of full-time work soon in Colfax, as the department just added a position. However, there are 28 applicants.
The example of his father, and his own service in the U.S. Marine Corps, led Brazeau to seek a career wearing a badge.
A 2005 graduate of Eau Claire Memorial High School, Brazeau served in the Marine Corps from 2005-2009, and this past August graduated from UW-Stout’s Applied Social Sciences program. In October, he joined the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’ve been riding along with full-time officers and providing security at events throughout the county,” said Brazeau, whose father is a former Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department deputy.
“My military training transfers well into law enforcement, and I like helping people,” he said about his career choice.
The graduates will have a chance to make a difference, Anderson said. The program has well prepared them to “serve and protect” the communities they join.
Most of the graduates complete CVTC’s two-year program, or a four-year university program in criminal justice or a related field before entering the Academy. That provides a good, required foundation, but the Academy gets down to the practical.
Anderson said the program instructs the recruits in six areas: Policing in America, Tactical Skills, Patrol Procedures, Legal Context, Relational Skills, and Investigations.
“This is a very select group of people,” said Anderson, who interviewed each individually before admission to the program. Most will start out in part-time jobs, though, like Brazeau and Madrid already have. Still, it’s a good path to a career.
“I started out as a reserve and was in charge of the reserves for 20 years,” said current Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith, who attended the graduation ceremony. “We put a lot of effort into our reserves.”
Smith calls the Academy “good basic training,” and he keeps an eye on who’s coming out of it each session.
“If I see someone who stands out, I’ll slip them a card. It’s good to have a source of good quality people.” Smith said.