SNOW HILL — The latest batch of Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies wrapped up their time at the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy (ESCJA) by taking all of the school’s top honors and graduating at the top of their class.
“We took every award,” said Sheriff Reggie Mason.
Freshmen deputies Shane Musgrave, Christopher Barrs and Mark Powell graduated from the Wor-Wic Community College-based academy on June 17. They graduated with the top three placements and between themselves, won the highest awards in their class for academics, physical fitness and firearms. The hat trick of awards is a first for outgoing Worcester Sheriff’s cadets and also marks the largest class of group to ever graduate at once.
“This is the first time we’ve ever put three in the academy,” said Mason.
Mason explained that watching all three of his deputies distinguish themselves to such a degree was “a shock.”
“You never expect that,” he said, stressing how impressive finishing in the top three spots amongst a class of almost a dozen highly qualified cadets was.
The commissioners, who got a chance to meet the deputies briefly Tuesday, were equally impressed.
“We couldn’t be prouder of you,” said Commission President Bud Church.
After graduation, the deputies went through a 60-day supervision period. However, as of Tuesday, the three will be running solo shifts as full-members of the sheriff’s office.
“Today, they’ll be on their own,” said Mason.
Following the success of the trio, Mason plans on utilizing the academy to train more deputies. While a standard practice among law enforcement agencies is to shuffle trained officers back and forth, Mason noted the importance of expanding the field of officers by graduating cadets from academies like the one offered at Wor-Wic.
“For many years, we’ve been involved in later transfers,” said Mason, referring to the practice of a veteran officer leaving one department for another.
Mason admitted that it saves money, since the officers are already trained. However, he revealed that it “hurts smaller departments” that might not be able to afford to entice new officers to join, or current officers to remain. On top of that, Mason explained that he wants to give young adults interested in law enforcement an opening to prove themselves.
“I want to give these kids a chance in the county,” he remarked. “I will give them that opportunity.”
Mason made sure to credit John Moses, associate director of the ESCJA, and the rest of the staff at the academy.
“Wor-Wic has been outstanding,” said Mason. “It’s a great working relationship.”
He pointed out that ESCJA is the only such academy on the Eastern Shore and without it cadets would need to be sent well out of the county to receive instruction, an inconvenient and expensive alternative.
The sheriff’s office has already enrolled another cadet into the program, said Mason. That deputy should graduate in December.