Four Smyth County men were among 34 cadets last week to graduate the Southwest Virginia Criminal Justice Academy’s 111th Basic Law Enforcement School.
Tyler Hayden, Cole McAllister, David Frye and Austin Millsaps have spent the last 20 weeks studying everything from traffic control to criminal investigations, report writing to crime scene photography and everything in between.
Now, they’re out in the field finishing up their final training with their respective police agencies.
Following their graduation, Hayden and McAllister, both of Chilhowie, will now sport the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office badge.
“They’re both fine young men,” said Sheriff Chip Shuler. “I’m blessed to get them both.”
Shuler noted the difficulty area agencies have in recruiting new officers given the competitiveness of the law enforcement industry.
“I’m just thrilled that there are still young people wanting to get into law enforcement. It gives us hope that people are still willing to set aside making a fortune and go into public service. Both of these gentlemen are really smart and they could have probably done anything else they wanted to do.”
Prior to his employment with the sheriff’s office, Hayden, the son-in-law of Chilhowie Police Chief Steve Price, worked at the regional jail in Abingdon. McAllister began his career with the county agency in security at the Smyth County Courthouse.
Over in Saltville, officers are welcoming David Frye to their ranks. A Marion man and Saltville native, Frye previously served with Marion Fire-EMS and the Saltville Rescue Squad. Before coming on board with the Saltville PD, Frye worked for the Bristol (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office at the jail there. While waiting to begin his training at the academy, Frye also served as a school resource officer at Saltville’s schools.
Saltville Police Chief Erik Puckett said he was proud to have Frye back in Saltville serving on the town’s police force.
“To graduate the academy is a huge thing to do,” he said.
In Chilhowie, Austin Millsaps joined the ranks of his hometown police force after working as a corrections officer at the Marion Correctional Treatment Center.
Academy graduates are required to spend an additional six to eight weeks training under a certified field training officer at their agencies. Once field training is complete, the new officers will start patrolling their respective communities.