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OLYMPIC ATHLETE, 14 COLLEGE GRADUATES AMONG NEW OFFICERS

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011— A member of two U.S. Olympic teams, two former teachers, a retired fire lieutenant and 14 college graduates are among the 45 cadets set to graduate from the Cook County Sheriff’s Training Academy today, marking the beginning of their law enforcement careers as correctional officers based at the Cook County Jail.

Sheriff Thomas J. Dart will preside over the ceremonies set for 2 p.m. today at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Heights. Events will take place in Building M, just off the 111th Street entrance to the campus.

Today’s graduates bring diverse backgrounds and career paths to their new positions. In discussing their decision to become correctional officers, many cited the job’s stability and the opportunities for advancement offered at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Each was hired under strict hiring guidelines Dart introduced in 2007 which include rigorous physical fitness requirements, psychological testing and thorough background checks.

Among those graduating are Stacy (Liapis) Fuchsgruber, a member of the 1998 and 2002 U.S. Olympic curling teams who carried the World Trade Center flag during the 2002 opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City. Two of the last three Cook County Sheriff’s correctional officer classes have included a former Olympic athlete. In December, Montell Griffin, a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic boxing team, graduated and began his career.

Of the 45 cadets in this class, 14 have bachelor’s degrees and four have master’s degrees. Their degrees include human resources management, psychology, sociology, graphic design, business administration, art history, marketing, education and criminal justice.

Howard Ward, of Chicago, is a retired mailman who teaches at Kennedy-King College, while Zaneta Thomas, also of Chicago, is a former high school teacher. Marvin Johnson, of Calumet City, is a retired Chicago Fire Department lieutenant and he is one of four U.S. military veterans who are graduating from the academy today.

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