Meet the 33 graduates of Class 216 from the Orange County Sheriff’s Training Academy

By Greg Hardesty

Stress training, physical training, firearms, arrest control techniques, learning domains, communication skills.

For 26 grueling weeks, the 33 graduating members of Class 216 at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy endured this and much more.

And their graduation ceremony Aug. 27 especially was sweet since it came, to the day, on the 50th anniversary of the graduation of Class 1, which consisted of six recruits who underwent six weeks of training.

Since that day in 1965, more than 5,000 men and women have graduated from what is considered one of the toughest and most professional police academies in the nation.

Michael Gerdin of the Garden Grove Police Department, center, waits with his graduating classmates at the start of the Orange County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy’s Basic Academy Class of 216 Graduation Ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Michael Gerdin of the Garden Grove Police Department, center, waits with his graduating classmates at the start of the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy’s Basic Academy Class 216 Graduation Ceremony on Aug. 27.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Four graduates from Class 1 — including Bud Mann, the very first academy member — and 12 of 19 previous academy commanders (Mann also was a commander) were in attendance at the big night last week for Class 216, whose members heard Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens deliver the keynote address.

Officer Marcus Saenz of the Fullerton PD, honorary chaplain of Class 216, gave the invocation.

“We have chosen to pursue peace, righteousness and justice in order to make the world a better place,” Saenz said. “Lord, be our guide this day and every day. Give us strength, fortitude, determination, stamina and compassion.”

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes presents Matthew Kalscheuer with the Outstanding Arrest Control Techniques award during Class 216's graduation ceremony at the Orange County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes presents Matthew Kalscheuer with the Outstanding Arrest Control Techniques award during Class 216’s graduation ceremony at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

In her speech, Hutchens mentioned the rich tradition of the academy and acknowledged the first academy graduates and commanders.

“They set the standard for those who followed,” Hutchens said.

The sheriff added: “I’m sure we can talk about the sweeping changes that have taken place in academy training and the world of law enforcement during the past half century… (but) I can tell you our public safety mission hasn’t changed, and those who have chosen to carry on the mission and traditions of our profession are exactly the same.”

Hutchens said some of the qualities of academy graduates include honesty, integrity and a great work ethic.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens presents Deputy Joshua Wiggs with the Outstanding Firearms Skills award during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens presents Deputy Joshua Wiggs with the Outstanding Firearms Skills award during Class 216’s graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“Congratulations on a job well done,” Hutchens told the graduates.

“All of us here tonight are exceptionally proud of you…tonight, you join a special group of people.”

The following are photos of some Class 216 graduates and brief profiles of all 33 of them. Each graduate received 20.5 credits from Santa Ana College, which partners with the OCSD in running the academy:

Fullerton’s new officer Christopher Chiu gets his badge pinned to him by his mother Phoebe and father Su during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton’s new officer Christopher Chiu gets his badge pinned on him by his mother Phoebe and father Su during the OCSRTA Class 216’s graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

FULLERTON PD

Christopher Chiu, 22, is a prior police cadet. He was a cadet at the FPD for about one year before starting the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy. While employed as a cadet, he completed his bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine.

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes presents Officer Marcus Saenz with his new badge during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes presents Officer Marcus Saenz with his new badge during the graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

Fullerton’s new officer Marcus Saenz gets his badge pinned to him by his girlfriend Tatiana during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton’s new officer Marcus Saenz gets his badge pinned on him by his girlfriend Tatiana during Class 216’s graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Marcus Saenz, 28, is a prior strength and conditioning coach. He did that for about two years before getting hired by the FPD as a police officer trainee. Saenz obtained his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton.

Academy Class of 216 Graduation Ceremony.

Fullerton Officer Matthew Kalscheuer gets his new badge pinned on him by his fiancée Kristen during Class 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Matthew Kalscheuer, 24, was the owner of a pool cleaning company. He ran the company for three years before getting hired by the FPD as a police officer trainee. He also has an associate degree in business administration from Fullerton College.

Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada presents a badge to Anaheim’s new officer Steve Magdaleno during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada presents a badge to Anaheim’s new officer Steve Magdaleno during the Class 216 graduation ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada presents a badge to Anaheim’s new officer Steve Magdaleno during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Anaheim’s new officer Steve Magdaleno gets his badge pinned on him by his father Javier during Class 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

ANAHEIM PD

Steven Magdaleno

Prior to attending the academy, Magdaleno earned his bachelor’s degree in radio/television/film from Cal State Fullerton. His career goals are to become a school resource officer and a K9 officer.

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin salutes Garden Grove’s new officer Michael Gerdin during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin salutes Garden Grove’s new officer Michael Gerdin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Officer Michael Gerdin gets his new badge pinned to him by his girlfriend Courtney during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Officer Michael Gerdin gets his new badge pinned on him by his girlfriend Courtney.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

Garden Grove Officer Michael Gerdin gets a kiss from his girlfriend Courtney after receiving his badge during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Officer Michael Gerdin gets a kiss from his girlfriend Courtney.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

GARDEN GROVE PD

Michael Gerdin

Prior to attending the academy, Gerdin served as infantry squad leader for the U.S. Marine Corps. He obtained the highest rank of lance corporal. Gerdin earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminology from UCI. His career goals are to be part of the career criminal apprehension team and promote to sergeant.

Garden Grove’s new officer Jeremy Morse gets his badge pinned to him by his mother Traysee and father Steve during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove’s new officer Jeremy Morse gets his badge pinned on him by his mother Traysee and father Steve.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Jeremy Morse

Prior to attending the academy, Morse was working toward a degree in administration of justice from Irvine Valley College. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and a narcotics officer.

Orange County Deputy David Aleman-Jimenez gets a hug from his mother Leticia with his father Victor and girlfriend Andrea on stage with him after receiving his new badge during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Deputy David Aleman-Jimenez gets a hug from his mother Leticia as his father Victor and girlfriend Andrea look on after he received his new badge.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

David Aleman-Jimenez

Prior to attending the academy, Aleman-Jimenez served as a correctional services assistant for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He earned his bachelor’s degree in human services from Cal State Fullerton. His career goals are to promote to investigator and work in sex crimes.

Orange County Deputy Ryan Fowler gets his new badge pinned to him by his father Brad, an investigator for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Deputy Ryan Fowler gets his new badge pinned on him by his father Brad, an investigator for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Ryan Fowler

Prior to attending the academy, Fowler served as a maritime law enforcement specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard. He obtained the highest rank of petty officer, third class. Fowler earned his associate’s degree in history from Saddleback College. His career goals are to work Harbor Patrol and on a narcotic suppression team.

Orange CountyDeputy Andrew Mirth gets his new badge pinned to him by his girlfriend Katie during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Deputy Andrew Mirth gets his new badge pinned on him by his girlfriend Katie.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Andrew Mirth  

Prior to attending the academy, Mirth earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton. His career goals are to work in the training division and promote to sergeant.

Orange County Deputy Tyler Rolstad gets his new badge pinned to him by his mother Karen during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Deputy Tyler Rolstad gets his new badge pinned on him by his mother Karen.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tyler Rolstad

Prior to attending the academy, Rolstad served as an M1 A1 tank crewman for the Marine Corps. He obtained the highest rank of corporal. Rolstad also served as a correctional services assistant for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. His career goals are to work on the bomb squad detail and promote to sergeant.

Police chief’s and other officials applauded the graduates of the very first graduating class of the County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy as they are announced at the start of the 216 graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Orange County Deputy Joshua Wiggs gets his new badge pinned on him by twin brother Jacob, a lance corporal for the U.S. Marine Corps. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Joshua Wiggs

Prior to attending the academy, Wiggs served as a correctional services assistant for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. His career goals are to work patrol in Stanton and become part of the gang enforcement team.

OTHER AGENCIES

Gerald Johnson, South Gate PD

Johnson’s career goals are to work in a gang enforcement detail and promote to sergeant.

Brian Englund, Whittier PD

Englund wants to work fraud investigations and promote to sergeant.

Giovanny Rodriguez, Whittier PD

Rodriguez, who previously served as a community service officer for the Culver City Police Department, hopes to work on a gang enforcement team and narcotic suppression team.

Jeffrey Bedinian, Beverly Hills PD

Prior to attending the academy, Bedinian earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCI. His career goals are to become a homicide detective and promote to sergeant.

Eric Bender, Beverly Hills PD

Prior to attending the academy, Bender earned a law degree and a master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and serve on the SWAT team.

Ben Chu, Burbank PD

Prior to attending the academy, Chu earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and work on a narcotic suppression team.

Matthew Gibbs, Burbank PD

Prior to attending the academy, Gibbs was working toward a degree in criminal justice from Santa Ana College. His career goals are to be a field training officer and to be a motor officer.

Sadee Martinez, Burbank PD

Prior to attending the academy, Martinez earned her bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies from UCLA. Her career goals are to become a detective and promote to sergeant.

Karissa Peltier, Burbank PD

Prior to attending the academy, Peltier earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State Northridge. Her career goals are to work as a school resource officer and a field training officer.

Garrett Souza, Burbank PD

Prior to attending the academy, Souza earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Whittier College. His career goals are to be a field training officer and a public information officer.

Kevin Christianson, Costa Mesa PD

Prior to attending the academy, Christianson earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Vanguard University. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and a detective.

Luis Gomez, Costa Mesa PD

Prior to attending the academy, Gomez earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton. His career goals are to become part of a narcotic suppression team and gang enforcement team.

Erik Hempe, Downey PD

Prior to attending the academy, Hempe earned dual bachelor’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies and in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida. His career goals are to become a detective and promote to lieutenant.

David Abernethy, Irvine PD

Prior to attending the academy, Abernethy earned dual bachelor degrees in economics and literature from Claremont McKenna College. His career goals are to be a field training officer and work as a detective.

Tyler Hollenbeck, Irvine PD

Prior to attending the academy, Tyler served as a military police officer for the Marine Corps. He obtained the highest rank of sergeant. Hollenbeck also served as a public safety assistant for the Irvine Police Department. He earned his bachelor’s degree in justice administration from Devry University. His career goals are to work as a K9 handler and become part of the SWAT team.

Gary Davis, Pomona PD

Prior to attending the academy, Davis earned his associate’s degree in administration of justice from Barstow Community College. His career goals are to become a school resource officer and promote to captain.

Stacey Poore, Pomona PD

Prior to attending the academy, Poore earned her associate’s degree in business administration from California Baptist University. Her career goals are to become a K9 handler and promote to sergeant.

Frank Wilson, Pomona PD

Prior to attending the academy, Wilson served as a flightline supervisor for the U.S. Air Force. He obtained the highest rank of staff sergeant. Wilson is currently attending University of Phoenix working toward a degree in psychology. His career goals are to become part of the SWAT team and promote to captain.

Paul Derienz, Santa Ana College

Prior to attending the academy, Derienz earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Endicott College. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and promote to sergeant.

Dorin Buchanan, Santa Ana PD

Prior to attending the academy, Dorin served as an infantry team leader for the Marine Corps. He obtained the highest rank of corporal. His career goals are to work on a narcotic suppression team and become part of the SWAT team.

Patrick Finnegan, Santa Ana PD

Prior to attending the academy, Finnegan earned his associate’s degree in math and sciences from Norco College. His career goals are to become a K9 handler and promote to sergeant.

Other images from the evening:

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens presents Deputy Joshua Wiggs with the Outstanding Firearms Skills award during the OCSRTA class of 216’s graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard stands at attention as Elizabeth Kunce sings the National Anthem during the OCSRTA Class 216 graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

Police chief’s and other officials applauded the graduates of the very first graduating class of the County Sheriff's Regional Training Academy as they are announced at the start of the 216 graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Police chiefs and other officials applaud the graduates of the very first graduating class of the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy as they are announced at the start of the Class 216 graduation ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC