Law enforcement officers graduate at critical time

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Nine Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputies and 20 Wichita Police officers have graduated from the Law Enforcement Training program in Sedgwick County.

The recruits walked across the stage Thursday night to receive their certificates and also took the oath as they were sworn in as police officers and sheriffs deputies.

It wasn’t the first time Officer John Knoll had taken an oath to serve, nor is he a stranger to the concept. Before joining the police department, he spent 31 years in the U.S. Navy.

“Once my navy career was over,” Knolla said. “It just kept calling me. So when I saw the application online, I was like, well, what the heck.”

Knoll said a ride-along in high school stuck with him years later. It made him think about joining the force but he eventually found the Navy instead. His career progressed through that, so he stayed there for 31 years total. He never had the chance to consider a law enforcement career until now.

“It’s a different kind of service,” he said. “The service I did in the military was serving the country. Now I get to serve my community.

They all joined the county sheriff’s office and the Wichita Police Department at a critical time.

Last year, a consulting group reviewed Wichita’s police department and recommended the city add 49 sworn officers, in addition to nearly two dozen civilian personnel.

“One of the biggest issues, if not the biggest issue we face is staffing,” said Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay. “I want to do more community policing, we simply can’t do it when officers are going call to call.”

Despite retirements, he said the additional officers will go a long way to fulfilling that plan. And he praised officers like Knolla and the others coming to the force.

“That’s the kind of people we need on the street,” he said. “People that have faced adversity, faced many of life’s challenges. They make better cops.”

Knolla agrees, not calling it a new career but a calling.

“If you join, it’s something you want to do,” he said.