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CVTC graduate Zachary Joyce joins the Chippewa Falls Police Department

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Zachary Joyce

Zachary Joyce, a new addition to the Chippewa Falls Police Department and graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Zachary Joyce, 25, had been thinking about entering the field of criminal justice since his high school days.

Life took him in a few directions, and it wasn’t until he was working for a construction company in early 2019 when he decided to make that dream a reality.

Now Joyce is one of 20 students who graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Law Enforcement Academy Thursday, Oct. 7. Each year the college offers three law enforcement academies, two jail academies and graduates about 100 students.

Eric Anderson, criminal justice director for CVTC, said even though all of these students have college credits of some sort – and many of them in criminal justice – the law enforcement academy is solely focused on context, scenario-based education and assessment.

“They are brand new, and they really haven’t had any experience in this regard, so we have a uniform requirement, a policy manual and they have to wear a duty belt daily to class,” Anderson said. “It’s more structured, there are rules and it’s a full eight-hour day, Monday through Friday.”

Beyond the process and protocols, Anderson acknowledges the challenge for law enforcement right now.

“It’s the elephant in the room, and it’s not something we will avoid. It’s something they have to know about,” he said. “They have to expect to have some adversity, but they can’t get caught up in it.”

Academy students should be able to articulate what drives them to become an officer. Do they desire to serve the community and be a servant to the people? Anderson said students’ intent gives him a good idea if they are getting into the profession for the right reason.

Joyce, who graduated from Elmwood High School, was chosen as a squad leader in the academy and secured a position with the Chippewa Falls Police Department before graduation.

“I finally made the choice to get into law enforcement because I felt as if it would fit best with my mindset,” Joyce said. “I have a drive for physical fitness, having pride in what I do and how I carry myself and helping those in need.”

Before deciding to enter law enforcement, Joyce, 25, joined the Marine Corps in San Diego. He spent four years on active duty with the 2/6 unit.

“While I was there, I learned exactly who I wanted to be and what type of a leader I wanted to be,” he said.

That drive is why Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm chose Joyce as the department’s newest recruit. Before hitting the streets of Chippewa Falls with a field training officer, Joyce experienced the department’s training and evaluation with the in-house tactical trainers.

Kelm said he’s thankful for colleges like CVTC that offer the academy.

“Many of our officers are CVTC graduates,” he said. “The law enforcement academy provides prospective officers with the necessary street-level, hands-on training of doing actual police work. The academy is very challenging with high entry and graduation standards. Future officers are trained and tested both physically and mentally, focusing on teamwork, positive attitude and decision-making under pressure.

“Students who graduate are well-trained and prepared for the difficult but very rewarding job of being a police officer.”

Anderson is proud of CVTC’s law enforcement academy graduates. He cares about them and wants them to succeed – not just now but throughout their career.

“You’re not going to make a million dollars in this job,” Anderson said. “As a matter of fact, you are going to pay for it in many different ways – with family and health issues. It takes a real toll on your body and your mind.

“I know they know what they are signing on for. They have this internal desire to be a servant to their community and accept all drawbacks. It takes a certain kind of person to take that on. I give credit to those who are here.”

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