Indiana University Police Academy Graduation Ceremony

Alumni Hall
Indiana Memorial Union
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
August 15, 2015


Thank you, Captain Butler.

Members of the platform party; honored guests; distinguished alumni of the IU Police Academy; friends and family of this year’s graduates; and members of the Indiana University Police Academy Class of 2015:

At a recent gathering of law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama said that all American police officers are united by a “shared sense of purpose that brings (them) together as a community: one family, united by a quiet strength and a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of others.”1

Today, members of the IU Police Academy Class of 2015, you stand ready to take your place in that tightly knit community of law enforcement officers, united by your shared sense of purpose and your willingness to sacrifice as you serve others.

Today, you graduate from what is perhaps the only program of its kind in the country where full-time students attend a police academy to become sworn police officers. Graduates of the academy have gone on to successful careers as officers, investigators, police chiefs and high-ranking administrators not only with the IU Police Department, but also with city, including right here in Bloomington; county; and state police organizations around the country. Others have gone on to successful careers with the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Still others have gone on to law school, using the training they received in the IU Police Academy in their work as prosecutors.

Reorganization for Greater Effectiveness and Efficiency

In 2009, I reorganized the police departments on all IU campuses to form a single IU Police Department. Just as every IU degree says “Indiana University” regardless of what campus you attended, the Indiana University Police Department is now one department serving seven campuses.

And I am very pleased to note that, for the first time, this year’s IU Police Academy class includes graduates from all seven IU campuses.

The IU Police Department had been configured as one department from the time of its founding in 1971 until the mid-1980s. We implemented the 2009 reorganization, which returned the IUPD to its original configuration, for a number of very important reasons.

A larger, central organization allows us to operate and coordinate more effectively and to share knowledge, skills, and resources. It also allows us to eliminate unnecessary duplication, to do more with the resources we have, to more efficiently deploy those resources to make our campuses and our communities safer and more secure.

Serving the Campus and Beyond

For all university presidents, the safety of the members of our university communities is a paramount concern.

Campus police, especially at a major university like IU, face unique challenges.

Indiana University is a large and diverse community, with nearly 115,000 students, more than 9,000 faculty, and 11,000 staff. Our students come from all 50 states and more than 160 different countries—and most of them are living away from home for the first time.

Our campus police also coordinate with other agencies to ensure the safety of the many dignitaries from around the nation and the world who visit our campus, and the safety of attendees at the many sporting events and cultural events that we host.

Given this environment, university police have to be ready literally for just about anything.

During my time as president of IU, the university has seen its share of difficult, sometimes tragic events, ranging from protests to incidents of anti-Semitism, and, tragically, the untimely deaths of students, faculty, and staff.

But, in all these situations, I take great comfort in knowing that Indiana University has a corps of well-trained police officers who are professional, intelligent, collaborative, reliable, hard-working, and, above all, thoroughly dedicated to protecting and serving all of the members of the IU community.

Excellent Training

Mark Twain wrote that when we try to try to understand how some of the most talented artists and inventors in human history developed, measuring the person’s talent alone will not explain the whole result. Twain wrote “…it is the atmosphere in which the talent was cradled that explains; it is the training it received while it grew, the nurture it got from reading, study, example, the encouragement it gathered from self-recognition and recognition from the outside at each stage of its development…”2 Twain concludes that only when we know all these details can we understand why the man or woman who achieved greatness was ready when his or her opportunity arrived.

In the same way, it is not your talent alone, but the excellent training you have received at the Indiana University Police Academy that will make you excellent police officers, ready to respond effectively no matter what you are called upon to do.

In fact, capitalizing on all the resources of Indiana University and building upon the nurture and guidance students receive and the self-awareness they gain during their studies at IU was part of the impetus for establishing the IU Police Academy more than 40 years ago.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, “Skeeter” Owen, a retired FBI agent who served IU as director of what was then known as the University-Wide Safety System, advanced the idea of establishing a police cadet program that would combine higher education with two years of police training and experience. James Kennedy, who served as the first deputy director of the academy—and who also served as a U.S. Marshal, IU and Bloomington Chief of Police, and Monroe County sheriff—said that the idea was to “create a ‘West Point’ for law enforcement officers who would graduate with a college degree and valuable police work experience.”3

Today, members of the Class of 2015, you join a group of exceptionally well-trained graduates of the IU Police Academy who have, for more than four decades, helped to enhance and strengthen police forces throughout the state and across the nation.

You also graduate at a time when a fierce debate is raging across the nation about biased policing in the wake of multiple incidents of inappropriate and excessive use of force and the multiple tragic shootings of unarmed African American men. The training you have received at the IU Police Academy has instilled in you the principle that law enforcement officers are most effective when they police their communities with the authority, collaboration and trust of the people they serve. Your training in the academy has taught you to have empathy and compassion and it has taught you how to build that trust.

Conclusion: “Courage is the Quality Which Guarantees All Others”

Today, graduates, you join a distinctive tradition of service at Indiana University, one marked by personal integrity and courage.

As the great British statesman Sir Winston Churchill once wrote: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because … it is the quality which guarantees all others.”4

You will find this to be true throughout your careers in law enforcement.

It will, of course, require courage to enter dangerous and stressful situations and to put the safety of others before your own.

But it will also require courage to compromise for the greater good, to accept criticism, and to learn from your mistakes.

It will take courage to exercise sound judgment under difficult and frustrating circumstances, to remain a calming influence, and to de-escalate tense situations.

It will take courage to stand up in the face of corruption, brutality, and bigotry.

It will take courage to embrace change—and change will come—in the technologies you use in your work, in the challenges you face, in the communities you serve, and in the nature of police work itself.

Members of the Class of 2015, you have already demonstrated the courage it takes to persevere through the rigorous training of the Indiana University Police Academy.

A weighty but rewarding responsibility is now before you.

Your training—and the models of courage and professionalism who are your instructors and colleagues—have shown you how to accept and fulfill that responsibility.

May you use your training and your courage to serve others and to help improve our world.

Thank you, and congratulations to the members of the graduating class.

Source Notes

  1. President Barack Obama, Remarks at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, U.S. Capitol, delivered May 15, 2012, Web, accessed August 3, 2015, URL:
  2. Mark Twain, “Saint Joan of Arc,” in The Writings of Mark Twain Volume 24: The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories, (Harper & Brothers, 1906),153.Sgt. David Rhodes, “Full-Time Student, Part-Time Police Officer Program,” Campus Law Enforcement Journal, 24. 
  3. Sgt. David Rhodes, “Full-Time Student, Part-Time Police Officer Program,” Campus Law Enforcement Journal, 24. 
  4. Winston Churchill, “Alfonso the Unlucky,” Great Contemporaries, (Leo Cooper, 1990. First published 1937), 137.