Indiana University Police Academy Graduation Ceremony

IMU Alumni Hall
IU Bloomington

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presides over the graduation of the IU police academy's 45th class. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, Indiana University

Sacrifice and Service

Thank you, Executive Vice President Applegate.

I extend a warm welcome to all of the family members, law enforcement officers, and distinguished guests who have joined us this morning.

Today, members of the IU Police Academy Class of 2018, you stand ready to take your place in the special and tightly knit community of law enforcement officers, united by your shared desire to serve the public interest and by your willingness to sacrifice as you serve the larger community.

You graduate from what is perhaps the only program of its kind in the country where full-time students attend a police academy to become sworn police officers.

Graduates of the academy have gone on to successful careers as officers, investigators, police chiefs and high-ranking administrators not only with the IU Police Department, but also with city, county, and state police organizations—including here in Bloomington, Monroe County, and the state of Indiana—as well as police organizations around the country. Others have gone on to successful careers with the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Still others have gone on to law school, using the training they received in the IU Police Academy in their work as prosecutors.

Reorganization for Greater Effectiveness and Efficiency

As Executive Vice President Applegate mentioned, the 2009 reorganization of the police departments on all IU campuses to form a single IU Police Department allows us to do more with the resources we have, and to more efficiently deploy those resources to make our campuses and our communities safer and more secure.

For all university presidents, the safety of the members of our university communities is a paramount concern. I take great comfort in knowing that Indiana University has a corps of well-trained police officers who are professional, intelligent, collaborative, reliable, hard-working, and, above all, thoroughly dedicated to protecting and serving all of the members of the IU community.

Excellent Training

As you, the members of the Class of 2018, prepare to join the ranks of law enforcement officers, the excellent training you have received at the Indiana University Police Academy will make you outstanding officers, ready to respond effectively no matter what you are called upon to do.

In addition, the overall education you have received at Indiana University will enable you to remain flexible and creative, open to unexpected directions of thought and action. It will enable you to think analytically, to find solutions to unforeseen and challenging problems.

In fact, capitalizing on all the resources of Indiana University and building upon the nurture and guidance students receive and the self-awareness they gain during their studies at IU was part of the impetus for establishing the IU Police Academy more than 46 years ago.

The idea was to establish a police cadet program that combined higher education with two years of police training and experience. The program's founders envisioned it as a kind of "West Point" for law enforcement officers who would graduate with a college degree and valuable police work experience.1

Today, you graduate at a time when a fierce debate is raging across the nation about biased policing in the wake of multiple tragic incidents of inappropriate and excessive use of force. The training you have received at the IU Police Academy has instilled in you the principle that law enforcement officers are most effective when they police their communities with the authority, collaboration and trust of the people they serve. Your IU education and your academy training have taught you to have empathy and compassion—and they have taught you how to build that trust.

Courage is the Quality which Guarantees All Others

Today, graduates, you join a distinctive tradition of service at Indiana University, one marked by personal integrity and courage.

As the great British statesman Sir Winston Churchill once wrote: "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because … it is the quality which guarantees all others."2

You will find this to be true throughout your careers in law enforcement.

It will, of course, require courage to enter dangerous and stressful situations and to put the safety of others before your own.

But it will also require courage to compromise for the greater good, to accept criticism, and to learn from your mistakes.

It will take courage to exercise sound judgment under difficult and frustrating circumstances, to remain a calming influence, and to de-escalate tense situations.

It will take courage to stand up in the face of corruption, brutality, and bigotry.

It will take courage to embrace change—and change will come—in the technologies you use in your work, in the challenges you face, in the communities you serve, and in the nature of police work itself.

Members of the Class of 2018, you have already demonstrated the courage it takes to persevere through the rigorous training of the Indiana University Police Academy.

A weighty but rewarding responsibility is now before you.

Your training—and the models of courage and professionalism who are your instructors and colleagues—have shown you how to accept and fulfill that responsibility.

May you use your training and your courage to serve others and to help improve our world.

Thank you, and congratulations to the members of the graduating class.

Presentation of the Randy Williamson Scholarship

Thank you, Major Luce—and congratulations again to all the members of the IU Police Academy Class of 2018.

This morning I have the privilege of awarding a new IU Police Academy Scholarship— in fact, it is the first scholarship that the academy has ever had—and I’d like to invite my wife, Laurie, to join me at the podium.

Just over a year ago, Randy Williamson retired after 10 years of service in the Office of the President as my driver and security officer.

Prior to working in my office, Randy had a distinguished 37-year career in law enforcement with the Bloomington Police Department, where he served as sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and finally, deputy chief of police—in essence the chief operating officer of BPD.

He served with great dedication and distinction as my driver and security officer—and essentially became a member of my family. Other than Laurie, there was no one with whom I spent more time over those ten years. And our enormous respect for police officers and the difficulty of the job they do only grew during the time Randy worked closely with us.

I'm very pleased that Randy is here today, along with his wife, Linda. Randy and Linda, would you stand for our recognition?

On the occasion of his retirement, as a way to honor Randy and his exemplary service, Laurie, my family, and I made a gift to establish the Randy Williamson Scholarship for Excellence, to be awarded to the highest performing IU police cadet at the completion of his or her junior year, to be held during their senior year.

As I mentioned, it is the IU Police Academy’s first scholarship, and today, Laurie and I have the privilege of awarding it for the first time.

I am pleased to announce that the inaugural recipient of the Randy Williamson Scholarship is Cadet Officer Mitchell Burelison.

Officer Burelison, would you please join us at the podium?

Officer Burelison, who is from Centerville, Indiana, is majoring in Criminal Justice at IU East, where he will be a senior this fall.

He is a member of the IU East Red Wolves track and field team, and he was named an All-River States Conference honoree on the strength of his team’s second-place finish in the 4 x 400-meter relay at the conference indoor meet in February.

Officer Burelison's IU Police Academy record has been exemplary, with high academic marks, and high scores in physical fitness and firearms proficiency.

Officer Burelison, it is my great pleasure to present you with the inaugural Randy Williamson Scholarship for Excellence. Congratulations.

Source Notes:

1. Sgt. David Rhodes, “Full-Time Student, Part-Time Police Officer Program,” Campus Law Enforcement Journal, 24.

2. Winston Churchill, “Alfonso the Unlucky,” Great Contemporaries, (Leo Cooper, 1990. First published 1937), 137.