When Jeffrey Husk was 3, his dad’s best friend, then-Sgt. Andy Lewis of the Napa Police Department, dropped by to show off his new stripes.
Little Jeffrey, being shy, told Lewis to get back in his car. Instead, Lewis placed the boy in his shiny patrol car and told him to “get to work.”
From that moment, Husk said, he had an idea about what he wanted to do with his life.
On Saturday, after graduating from the Napa Valley College Police Academy, Husk was welcomed into the world of professional law enforcement by retired Napa Police Commander Lewis, along with a representative of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, where Husk starts working on Thursday; and by Husk’s mother, Julia Dirienzo, of Napa.
Over the years, Lewis has served as a kind of “Dutch uncle” to Husk, keeping an eye on him throughout high school and his six years in the Navy.
“Andy is a major contributing factor in my life – he’s the reason I’m here today,” said Husk after the graduation ceremony.
Husk was one of 11 cadets in the academy’s 102nd class graduation, which attracted about 300 uncles, aunts, parents, siblings and friends to the NVC gym, where the ceremony was held.
The graduation featured a key speech by Andrew Blalock, the class president and valedictorian, who earned the academy’s highest honor, the Dr. Bruce Beckler Memorial Scholarship Award, plus outstanding achievement awards in learning ability and communication skills.
The academy training was “a personal journey and a communal experience,” said Blalock.
“Our group is comprised of individuals from very diverse backgrounds. We represent experience at desk jobs, sales, anti-terrorism, baking, security and anti sex-trafficking, only to all end up congregating in one room for eight hours a day over a five-month duration to learn together and support each other in pursuit of this new career,” Blalock said.
The class began each day by reciting the class motto: “Integrity, honor, commitment,” he said. Cadets told Blalock the biggest lessons they learned in the academy included “time management, confidence, perseverance, sacrifice, accountability, dedication, command presence, compromise without giving up values, attention to detail, family and commitment.”
Academy Director Damien Sandoval introduced each graduate by speaking about their unique qualities.
Michael Czyz earned the Craig McCarthy award, awarded to a cadet who scores in the top 90th percentile in seven areas of achievement, including lifetime fitness, learning ability, physical skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, self-improvement and communication skills.
Danielle Hernandez earned the two top awards for interpersonal skills and self-improvement, while Devyn Parsons earned the top award for physical skills and Tiffany Ruvalcaba earned the top award for problem solving.
Individual recognition was also bestowed upon graduates Drake Gammill, Michael Lawson, Wenner Massella, Stephani Stewart, Megan Wright and Husk.
Lewis, who joined the Napa Police Department in 1982, praised the NVC Police Academy program, saying it is one reason why so many local officers are home-grown.
Divienzo, Husk’s mother, also said several graduates of the NVC Police Academy are working as deputies for the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, where she works.
The ceremony concluded with the administration of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, which was recited jointly by the graduates and about 30 law enforcement officers who attended the event.
This story has been corrected to remove an error regarding the Craig McCarthy award. Also, the spelling of Julia Dirienzo's name has been corrected.