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Police academy graduation speech: The hardest job you will ever love

The police officer is woven from precious fabric, cut from cloth that most will never have the courage or the conviction to wear

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Dr. Kathy Platoni delivers the commencement speech to the Dayton (Ohio) Police Academy Class 108.

Photo/Dayton Police Department

Last year’s police academy graduates experienced unique commencement ceremonies. COVID-related social distancing meant new recruits wore masks and sat several feet apart from their classmates. Many agencies live-streamed academy commencements for the first time so absent family members could share in the celebrations. As we begin the return to “normal” life, we hope to see a return to in-person celebrations for police academy graduates. We would like to congratulate all the new graduates and wish them a safe and successful police career.

The following is excerpted from the commencement speech given to the Dayton (Ohio) Police Academy Class 108 by Dr. Kathy Platoni, PsyD, DAIPM, FAIS. For a copy of the entire speech, email

What will be bestowed upon you as you raise your hands to take the oath of office and pledge your sworn duty to protect and serve is of the most noble and meritorious deeds of all, a declaration and testimonial to all things courageous, righteous and selfless, with an unmistakable and unwavering clarity of purpose. What lies within the police officer are qualities of character to which too few will ever aspire and that will surely lead you to realize amazing deeds.

The police officer is woven from precious fabric, cut from cloth that most will never have the courage or the conviction to wear, to stand separate from the masses and to carry out those solemn duties that will mystify and yes, even bamboozle, others of your generation with those qualities of integrity and virtue that have swiftly gone missing and that will leave the rest to be lost at sea. This is the hardest job you will ever love.

There are enormous burdens that may become a plague upon your soul in the law enforcement profession and that may haunt you for the duration of your career, as there is no place to house or to file the countless incidents that cannot be unseen. Trauma and tragedy are unforgettable. Dark days may threaten to consume you when you find yourselves coming face to face with degrees of adversity and unadulterated horror that are the daily diet of fodder for the evening news.

This is the stuff that will never come within the camera angle and that will mark the lives of those who will repeatedly encounter the masses of suffering souls on the very worst days of their lives, and an endless horror show that may return to rendezvous in your head and replace the exhilaration that once led you into law enforcement.

Never allow what haunts you to become the unbearable cargo that defines your career. Always remember that it is your family, your friends, your fellow officers and your mentors who will accompany you on this journey.

As hard-charging as you may believe yourself to be, there may be many catastrophic events that are sure to pierce your soul and perforate your heart. Every cop has a tipping point that may drop them to their knees, unforeseen emotions flooding back with a tidal wave of vengeance that tosses you into a tailspin and bludgeons your soul.

Do not throw yourself into exile or deny yourself access to the camaraderie of the men and women in blue; the very most powerful prescription of all. The brotherhood/sisterhood of police work will always remain a guiding light and a formidable force that will sustain you through the worst of times. Belongingness is a feeling like none other.

There is an unmistakable message here not to be overlooked or missed – that asking for help from peers or seeking assistance from the mental health arena will also make you braver than you ever thought you were. The weight of the world is not meant for you to carry alone and the journey upon which you are about to embark must never be a solitary one. Never forget that your badge is not impenetrable.


Never forget that regardless of all else, your most important job is to go home at the end of your shift to hug your loved ones.

Photo/Dayton Police Department

When you walk the beat and step out of your cruiser, you have the golden opportunity to demonstrate the very best of community policing. When nobody is looking, it is our police officers who will often be found shooting hoops with neighborhood kids, delivering food to the needy and investing time into checking in on those suffering and alone. Your voice may be the last one heard by those who will not live to see tomorrow.

When you tend to the broken lives of those in crisis, when you remove the defenseless from harm’s way, when you are the quiet hero that saves countless lives that no one will ever know about, you bring humanity and altruism back to a planet starved for it. Never forget that regardless of all else, your most important job is to go home at the end of your shift to hug your loved ones, and to allow them to walk with you through the worst of times. Do the same for them, as the cop’s family often pays an equally high price for what they do and what they see.

It is you who have been selected as guardian angels of our communities, the merciful and benevolent protectors of public safety. Willingly, you have accepted this mission and risen up to stand your ground between good and evil.

You have been called upon to draw the battle lines between those who seek to do harm to innocent prey, the lawlessness that has become the society that surrounds us and pure, unadulterated goodwill. It is you who will allow us to sleep peacefully at night. You could not possibly be sufficiently compensated for the heroic deeds that will be asked and demanded of you, but all that you will deliver in this endeavor is priceless.

Be triumphant for the glorious path you have chosen, the extraordinary works that you will now carry out, and the unmatched service and sacrifices that will mark your years of service to the beloved Gem City.

Godspeed, members of the Dayton Police Academy Class 108!


Dayton Police Academy Class 108.

Photo/Dayton Police Department


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