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First Collin Birnie Award recipient honored to be recognized

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: November 17, 2022

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

For years Collin Birnie handed out awards on behalf of the POLC to help non-sponsored Police Cadets pay the costs of attending Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA). This year, a scholarship award was presented in the POLC Executive Committee member’s honor, following his untimely death in a February traffic accident.

Cadet Jeffrey Wagner is the first recipient of the Collin Birnie Award. He was awarded with $1,000 April 28 during the Mott Community College police academy graduation.

“This is the first graduation we’ve had in-person at the location where we usually do it since COVID began,” said Kitty Severance, LERTA Staff Assistant, referring to guests being able to attend. Graduations, which have been livestreamed since 2020, had previously been limited to cadets and staff in a smaller venue.

The Collin Birnie Award will be given twice yearly at the discretion of the police academy to graduates who have not been sponsored by any police agency. To qualify, cadets must pass the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) certification test and meet MCOLES employment standards to become certified Michigan Law Enforcement Officers.

Wagner graduated the academy in the 96 percentile. “He was the highest scoring scholastic achievement recruit,” said LERTA Director Lt. David Livingston.

Wagner was hired as a Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputy after graduation, but his career with the department began in 2018 as a Corrections Officer. He began Criminal Justice coursework at Schoolcraft College and transferred to University of Michigan Dearborn where he’s in the process of completing his bachelor’s degree. During academy training, he had to take a leave from work.

“(The Award) was appreciated and very helpful,” Wagner said. “Apart from the monetary portion, just receiving the award was nice because it was in Collin Birnie’s name. I was honored. I know Collin Birnie was a great guy and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to say anything bad about him.”

Wagner said he had met Birnie a couple times and while he didn’t know him well, his reputation preceded him. “I know people who work at Flint PD who knew him well and I just heard stories about him, how he was willing to help out everybody,” Wagner said. “I knew a lot of people who always talked highly of him and so I felt like I knew him through other people. You almost didn’t have to know him personally, he was such a big figure.”

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