Eau Claire, WI – Lake Hallie Police Department Reserve Officer Cory Dechow didn’t know it when he received his state law enforcement certification at a ceremony at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Friday, but he was already in line for a promotion. He is now a full officer with the department, though with only part-time hours for now.
Dechow, along with Dunn County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Deputy Nick Hutchinson, were the only two of the 15 summer graduates from CVTC’s Law Enforcement Academy who were able to wear the uniforms of their departments to the ceremony. Others are already looking for their first jobs in the field.
The Academy is a program through which candidates officially receive their certification to work as law enforcement officers in Wisconsin. Admission to an Academy program requires 60 college-level credits and other qualifications. All 15 graduates receiving certifications Friday had just finished a two-year CVTC Law Enforcement Associate Degree program in the spring term before starting the extra course work of the Academy.
For Hutchinson, the graduation represented the end of a long road toward a career he’s always wanted. The 2002 Chippewa Falls Senior High School graduate worked a number of jobs before the CVTC Law Enforcement program and the Academy gave him a real career.
“I’ve always wanted to go into law enforcement. It just took a long time to convince myself to go back to school,” he said. “I like being out with the public, interacting with people, and helping them when they need it.”
In March, Hutchinson was hired as reserve in Dunn County. He helps out with security at public events, but was not certified to be a regular deputy until his Academy graduation. Now he, like his fellow graduates, is hoping to find full-time work.
Dechow, a 2001 Stanley-Boyd High School graduate, found his love of law enforcement in the service. After high school, he spent eight years in active duty in the U.S. Navy, including two tours of duty on aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. He spent the latter part of his military career in military police.
Dechow is currently in the Navy Reserves. In September he was hired as a reserve officer. A part-time position just opened on the Lake Hallie regular force. Chief Cal Smokowicz said after the Academy graduation ceremony that the position would be offered to Dechow.
Dechow says he looks forward to a long career in law enforcement. “I like to educate people when I have contact with them – simple things to improve people’s lives,” he said.
That attitude was also expressed by Joel Benson, the student speaker at the Academy graduation. “We don’t pursue this career to make people’s lives harder than they have to be. We pursue this career to help people,” he said.
Attorney Layne Yost, an Academy faculty member, was the keynote speaker and emphasized law enforcement as public service and policing for the “right reasons.”
“What mental attitude will you bring to a life of public service?” he asked. “Are you motivated to be good? Are you motivated to do good?
“As we send you out into the world, we do so with the fondest wish – make us proud,” Yost concluded.
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.