Three new U. of I. Police officers graduate from academy

URBANA – Three new University of Illinois police officers have completed their 12 weeks at the Police Training Institute in Champaign, and one of the officers received the class’ highest honor during a graduation ceremony on Thursday.

Two of the new police officers might be familiar faces to campus community members – Taylor Franzen and Ed Chevere are joining U. of I. Police after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and serving as student patrol officers.

Franzen and Chevere are uniquely qualified to serve the campus community, as student patrol officers work closely with U. of I. Police officers to keep the area safe. Upon being sworn in Friday as police officers, Chevere and Franzen are already ahead of the game.

“It’s an incredible advantage when we can have even one new officer come in and already have a familiarity with campus and already be comfortable working with their fellow officers,” said Police Chief Jeff Christensen. “In this case, we have two new officers who will have that familiarity.”

University of Illinois Police are excited to get the third new officer into field training, too. Officer Michelle Kaeding impressed her peers and her Police Training Institute instructors so much that on Thursday she was awarded the Ervin H. Warren Award for Excellence, which “is given to the one officer in each Basic Law Enforcement Class who best exemplifies today’s concept of tomorrow’s police officer.”

The award is named in honor of the first director of the Police Training Institute.

“The selection process consists of input from fellow classmates, instructors and administration at the Police Training Institute,” said PTI Operations Director Charles Deakin. “The selection of this award is based on academic achievement, responsiveness to instruction and, most of all, unimpeachable moral character, professional conduct and integrity.”

A total of seven U. of I. police officers have been honored since the award’s debut in 1967. In addition to Kaeding, three of those officers – Shane Lammers, Ryan Lepp and Grant Briggs – are currently serving as University of Illinois police officers.

Former U. of I. Police officers Donald Hornbaker Jr., Carla Thompson and Ralph Hamlin also were Warren Award winners. The University of Illinois Police Department later named its officer of the year award for Hamlin.

The Police Training Institute’s Basic Law Enforcement class is the first course police officers from agencies across the state of Illinois take before they go into field training at their departments. The 12-week, 480-hour course exceeds the requirements set by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board for all new police officers in the State of Illinois. 

“This high quality, resident program utilizes current principles of adult learning to prepare students for classes allowing us to optimize performance based hands-on instructional methods. Community policing values are integrated throughout the course with emphasis on the service functions that are so much a part of today’s law enforcement mission,” according to the Police Training Institute website.

“We’re very lucky to have these three new officers join our team,” Christensen said. “Each one of them brings unique skills and perspective to the position, and I know they can’t wait to start serving our community.”