Gov. Andrew Cuomo was prepared for a tough audience when speaking Wednesday at the graduation ceremony for the 199th session of the New York State Police Academy.
Last year, when none of the graduates laughed or smiled at his remarks, the governor thought his material hadn’t worked. “This is probably the worst speech I have ever given,” Cuomo recounted from the dais at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.
He was eventually informed that all the graduates are at attention during the ceremony, which requires them to display no emotion while in their seats. Armed with that information, Cuomo joked that this year he wouldn’t try to engage the 192 stone-faced graduates in this latest class.
In a speech devoid of jokes, the governor talked about what the new troopers will face. He said there will be the challenges of past decades, but also new threats, like those posed by an evolving drug trade. He warned the graduates that they will be held to a higher standard than ordinary New Yorkers and that this standard will continue to apply when they’re not at work.
In conclusion, Cuomo said, “We’re proud to have you.”
The message was reiterated by state police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, who said, “I see the future of the state police and it looks bright.”
The new class included Shaun P. Rooney, a 2003 Saratoga Springs High School graduate who served about seven years as a parks patrol officer with the state’s parks department.
He initially entered law enforcement because of his family roots, with his father most recently serving in the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department. The decision to strive for the state police, Rooney said, was because of its history and reputation.
His initial deployment will be in the Catskills, but he hopes to eventually serve in “Troop T,” which monitors the state’s Thruway. New troopers will report for field duty this summer and will spend 10 weeks under a field-training program.
The graduation came after an intensive, six-month training session that tested recruits in academics, physical combat, weaponry, driving and life-saving techniques. Rooney said the time covered almost any potential scenario they might see in the field.
“Every which way, they challenged us,” he said.
Also in the class was 34-year-old Nicholas E. Bloomer of Burnt Hills. A former staff sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, he served in central Afghanistan and earned two Presidential Air Medals for Heroism in Flight as the result of his efforts during an ambush.
Bloomer is being stationed in western New York.
Other Capital Region graduates were Matthew J. Hogan, of Glenville, Jason Cintula of Schenectady, Emery Dergosits Jr. of Schenectady, Kyle W. Parkes of Wilton, Kevin Pettograsso of Clifton Park, Sean Wells of Ballston Spa, Alexander Chonski of Waterford, Christopher Czachor of Schoharie, Jason A. Dutcher of Schenectady, Matthew Bowers Jr. of Gloversville, Matthew Jurica of Clifton Park, Jack Premuto of Milton, Sean Ryan of Waterford, Jeremy Vannostrand of Schenectady, Francis Arencibia of Schenectady, James Sokolowski of Schenectady, and Lauren F. Warner, of Richmondville.
Last year’s class of recruits was the first since 2009, with subsequent classes put off because of budget crunches.
The next class of recruits begins its work on June 9, with classes starting the next day. There are currently 190 recruits signed up for the class, but that number is expected to drop by graduation.