SCOTTVILLE — Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin had an opportunity to impart his knowledge to graduates ready to take on the world of law enforcement.

Martin was a keynote speaker at West Shore Community College Police Academy commencement on May 6.

“I am honored to be speaking before the graduating class, as well as to family and friends. You have passed and survived the physical and mental training of academy life, sacrificed a lot over these past several months and have successfully arrived at this moment in your life,” he told graduates. “You have worked hard, through personal and family hardships, and now the launching of a new career. Congratulations.

“As your training has come to an end, the journey has only just begun. You have stepped into a role that few are willing or able to meet the challenge. Whether you move into becoming a police officer, deputy sheriff or public safety officer, or whether you work for the big city or a small village, you will have achieved the title of ‘peace officer.’”

Martin discussed what it means to be a peace officer, to work with the community, to be a mentor and to maintain public order.

“The days of the badge by itself gaining respect, are long gone. In present times, the role of ‘peace officer’ is not always looked upon as a hero. To gain public trust, you have to be more than that person in a uniform. You have to be able to talk to people, establish relationships and set the example. Not only while on patrol, but in your personal life as well,” he said.

He shared his personal experiences of law enforcement, emphasizing the importance of striving for honor, integrity and dedication.

“In closing, you have now become part of a bigger family. A family of brothers and sisters, from across the country. This family carries a shield and has taken an oath to protect its citizens and to preserve the peace,” he said.