Madison police grads don’t let Dallas shootings deter them from job

Twenty-one graduates walked across the stage Friday evening ready to join the ranks of the Madison Police Department.

All officers and graduates at the ceremony had black ribbons on their badges in support of the Dallas Police Department.

“Something really rare and hopefully never to occur again,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said about the ribbons during graduation.

The class representative, Officer Alexander Vogelzang, asked the crowd to observe a moment of silence during his speech.

Despite the recent tragedy, graduate Casey Assmann said she knows this is the job for her.

“I feel like my dream has finally come to reality,” she said. “To me, this isn’t just a job. It’s something that you’re called to do, and it’s a dream come true just to defend the people of this city.”

And Assmann had some words to share with the city she’s looking forward to serving.

“Give us a chance. Let us show you what we can do, that you can trust us and we’re there to help,” she said. “We’re not there to hurt; we’re there to help.”

And helping means running toward danger, not away from it.

“Even with the tragedy that happened in Dallas, the officers there showed we run directly to the trouble, we don’t run away from it,” Assmann said. “And that’s something I’ll continue to do throughout my career.”

Mayor Soglin addressed the fact that being a police officer can be scary.

“Every moment that you’re out there, there’s going to be not just those family and friends, but all of us concerned and worried and rejoicing when you safely complete a shift,” Soglin said.

Assmann’s boyfriend Tom Amoroso agreed.

“It does make me a little nervous,” Amoroso said. “But I’m not scared because I know she’s going to come home to me every single night and that she’s going to be safe.”

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval also spoke to the graduates. He got choked up at one point because he said his son is around the same age as the graduates and he couldn’t imagine his son doing what the new police officers will be doing.

“I certainly hope I can turn them over to you in the same condition I got them,” Koval said to the graduates’ friends and family in the crowd.

Koval said he has confidence the Dallas shootings won’t deter the new police officers’ spirits.

“That isn’t going to be a defining moment for their careers as they move ahead. It can be. It can be paralyzing if they allow it to,” Koval said. “But policing is about making a lot of positive choices. So we have to choose to continue our relentless pursuit of community-building by engagement, by relationships and I’m hopeful that they’re able to seize that opportunity.”