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Former Marine makes her mark at academy

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: January 15, 2021


By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Jillian Booker graduated Wayne County Regional Police Training Academy (WCRPTA) with a number of awards, including the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award.

Photo courtesy of WCRPTA
Wayne County Regional Police Training Academy graduate Jillian Booker was awarded the LEEP Award as well as several others at graduation Nov. 25,2020.

The Annapolis Naval Academy graduate, who served six years in the Marine Corps, received the LEEP Award along with: WCRPTA’s Iron Woman Award for being the top female recruit in physical training; a Larry Nehasil Memorial Endowed Scholarship, in honor of the former WCRPTA recruit and Livonia Police Officer who was killed in line of duty; the Kehrl Academic Excellence Award for the top scoring pre-service cadet; Chief’s Outstanding Performance Award selected by the academy’s directors and coordinators; MCOLES Outstanding Performance Award and MCOLES Leadership Award.

“Once she got to the police academy … You could tell she was a natural leader. I made her Captain of the class the first four weeks,” WCRPTA Director Anthony Mencotti said. “She’s a person who comes in and works as hard as she can every single day.”

Booker, 34, was first in her class academically with a 95 percentile. “She’s very gifted physically, very intelligent and works extremely hard. She doesn’t take any of the that for granted,” Mencotti said.

Apparently she impressed Farmington Hills Police Department because she was hired before graduation, starting as a full-time Officer Dec. 7, 2020. She also made quite an impression on her classmates who selected her as Captain of the class the last four weeks of the academy, representing them at graduation. “She’s highly thought of throughout the class. She’s pretty outstanding,” Mencotti said. ”The class truly, truly respects her. Her work ethic was second to none. She’s going to make a great police officer.”

Booker was one of 20 pre-service cadets who graduated Nov. 25, 2020 in a class of 30. Some cadets tested positive for COVID-19, causing a two-week shutdown. Once all were well, classes resumed and Director Mencotti organized a slightly delayed and cautious graduation ceremony. “We were supposed to graduate on the eleventh,” Booker said. “We ended up having a small thing in our classroom without guests, very simple, just the same people that would have normally been class.”

Booker received her General Science bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “Just to be accepted in the Annapolis Naval Academy is really exceptional,” Mencotti said. “A lot of people apply, but very few people actually get in.”

Upon graduation, Booker became a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. When she left the military at the end of 2014, she was leaning toward a career in law enforcement. “It just didn’t work out with the situation I was in at the time,” Booker said.

She worked as an airline flight attendant while earning her master’s degree in Nutrition Education at American University in Washington D.C. “I ended up going back in the Reserves for active duty deployment last year (2019) in Honduras,” she said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to pursue a law enforcement career. A lot of the reservists I was deployed with are police officers. To be around all of them and talk about it again, it made me realize what they saw in me. It was confirming again that’s what I wanted to do.”

The LEEP Award will provide much needed funds as Booker and her family made sacrifices as she went through the academy.  “It’s helping me because I moved here from Texas … so I’ve been living with family,” Booker said. “I just moved out finally. I get to be an adult again.”

The career change came with a return to her roots in Michigan. “I left when I was 18 and spent time in the military and military academy,” Booker said. “After years of serving my country, I’m very excited to be back in Michigan close to my family and serve back home now.”

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