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NMSU police officer-in-training graduates at top of police academy class

The New Mexico State University Police Department's newest uniformed member of the team graduated as valedictorian from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy's Basic Police Officer Training Class #183 last week in Santa Fe.

NMSU Police Officer-in-Training Ryan M. Beck stands in front of an American flag and a map of the NMSU Las Cruces campus.
NMSU Police Department Officer-in-Training Ryan M. Beck graduated from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Basic Police Officer course on June 1, and was class valedictorian. Beck is now going through the NMSU Police Department's 12-week Field Training Officer program. (NMSU photo by Emily C. Kelley)

Officer-in-Training Ryan M. Beck is not new to the NMSU Police Department or NMSU. He joined the department as an intern in June 2011, and in August 2011, was hired as a security guard at the department. In November, he was hired as a police officer and he started his training at the academy on Jan. 8. He took a semester off from school to attend the academy, but plans to finish his criminal justice degree at NMSU this year.

"It was kind of a reality check when I got there," Beck said. "The instructors tell you when to eat, when to get up and when to go to class. You have very little personal time, and the time you do have is very structured."

The Basic Police Officer Training Class instructs students in the basics of being a law enforcement officer in New Mexico, from a study of the state's laws and civil rights concerns, to firearm and emergency vehicle operations.

Beck's favorite part of the training was the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, where he learned aggressive and defensive driving techniques and how to push emergency vehicles to the limit.

"The training simulated what you might see in the field during a pursuit or a response to a call," Beck said. "The driving itself was fun, but I enjoyed the written test, too."

His combined scores on the written and field portions of the driving course earned him recognition as the top driver in the program.

Now that Beck is back on campus, he is serving as an officer-in-training, working with Patrol Officer Oscar Ferralez, who has mentored many officers-in-training at NMSU. Officers-in-training build their skills and learn department-specific skills and policies.

"I'm here to help him learn what he needs to know to have a safe and successful career," Ferralez said. "I get to see how these officers turn out and that's a reflection on me and how well I've trained them. This is an inherently dangerous field and if they go through their careers without getting injured, you can't take all of the credit, but knowing that you helped train them and helped them to learn from your experiences, feels good."

NMSU Interim Chief of Police Stephen Lopez said that the NMSU Police Department's field officer training program lasts for 12 weeks, so Beck should be on his own as an officer by the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.