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Police Academy grad pursues life-long dream with help from LEEP

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: April 22, 2020

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

Erik Rockwell always knew he wanted to become a police officer, but it wasn’t until he steered away from that path that he felt the pull to get back on course.

“Ever since I as a little kid I always played the cop when I played cops and robbers,” Rockwell said.

Concerned about his safety, his parents discouraged a career in the military or law enforcement. He decided to follow his dad’s career path instead.

Photo courtesy of LERTA
Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA) graduate Erik Rockwell (left) is presented a $1,000 LEEP Award by POLC Executive Committee member Collin Birnie.

“After my first semester of college, I knew I didn’t want to be a mechanical engineer,” Rockwell said. “It kept pulling at me like a calling. It’s bigger than me, greater than me.”

The 29-year-old graduated from Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA) at Mott Community College Dec. 19, 2019. He was honored with a $1,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award for being the highest scoring candidate (95.74 percent) not sponsored by a police department.

“Being able to afford my bills coming up in a couple weeks, it’s going to help me immensely,” Rockwell said. “It was getting down to the wire in the old bank account, especially with Christmas coming up. I can’t thank (LEEP) enough.”

He also received a $1,000 F.O.P. Lodge 126 Award. “I had no idea I was getting either of these awards,” he said.

Rockwell was one of five non-sponsored cadets out of a graduating class of 18. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University in 2013. During college, an internship at Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department cemented his path.

“It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like I was going to work,” Rockwell said. “After my shift was over, I couldn’t wait to go back and start again.”

After college, he said, “I was applying to police departments that would sponsor me to go to an academy and I was applying to the State Police as well, and that’s a two-year process. I didn‘t get into any of them and I decided to pay for it myself.”

With academy training under his belt and some unexpected help paying for it, Rockwell was hired as a full-time Novi Police Officer in February.

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