Special to the Register & Bee

The 37 members of the 131st Basic Session officially graduated Tuesday in advance of their originally scheduled graduation date of Friday.

In accordance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s directives related to COVID-19, traditional commencement exercises were canceled for the 36 new troopers and one new special agent accountant.

Dan River Region graduates are Jacob William Reaves, of Chatham, who will be assigned to Greene County; and Larry Darnell Tucker Jr., of Hurt, who will be assigned to Amherst

“This is the first time in decades that state police has had to postpone an Academy graduation ceremony,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent. “However, this in no way diminishes the Department’s pride in or appreciation of these new Troopers and Special Agent Accountant joining our ranks. We look forward to bringing these men and women and their families to our campus at a later date in order to properly celebrate their accomplishments of completing the Virginia State Police Academy.”

Settle met with the graduates mid-morning Tuesday for an official uniform inspection and to share a few final words with the class. The new troopers and special agent accountant then filed into the academy and proceeded up the marble steps — which is an honor only afforded the trainees upon graduation. At the top of the steps, Settle and the academy staff officially congratulated the graduates. Settle presented each graduate with a Superintendent’s Challenge Coin.

“Since these graduates will not receive their official diploma until their graduation ceremony, each was presented a Challenge Coin,” said Settle. “They are the only State Police graduates to ever receive a coin from the Superintendent, which I hope they accept as a constant reminder of their oath to serve our Commonwealth with valor and pride, especially during such challenging times.”

The class has received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including defensive tactics, crime scene investigation, ethics and leadership, survival Spanish, police professionalism, firearms, judicial procedures, officer survival, cultural diversity and crisis management. The members of the 131st basic session began their 29 weeks of academic, physical and practical training at the academy on Aug. 21.

The graduates of the 131st Basic Session are from every corner of the commonwealth, as well as Florida, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

The new troopers will report to their individual duty assignments across Virginia this week.

For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired up with a field training officer learning his or her new patrol area.

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