Eau Claire — Two new officers with the Hudson Police Department and one with the River Falls Police Department have completed their training at the Chippewa Valley Technical College Law Enforcement Academy and are ready to start regular duties with their new departments.

First up for Hudson officers Max Berger and Nicholas Warner and River Falls officer Patrick McGinty will be internal field training programs.

The three officers were among 22 graduates of the CVTC Law Enforcement Academy honored at an Oct. 4 graduation ceremony in Eau Claire. They wore the uniforms of the departments they will be serving with, as did 14 other graduates who had been hired by law enforcement agencies from Superior to Sheboygan County.

Completion of 60 hours of college credits is required to qualify for the academy. Many go through CVTC’s two-year criminal justice-law enforcement program, or through a university or other technical college.

CVTC Associate Dean of Emergency Services Eric Anderson said the 720-hour academy instructs the recruits in six areas: policing in America, tactical skills, patrol procedures, legal context, relational skills and investigations. Completion of training at a Law Enforcement Academy is required to become certified as a law enforcement officer in Wisconsin. However, officers can start work with a department before completing the training.

“I started out the Explorer program at the Hudson Police Department my freshman year of high school, and that's essentially what sparked my interest in law enforcement,” said Berger, a 2016 Hudson High School graduate. “I got to do a lot of ride-alongs, meet a lot of officers and get an idea of what a career in the field looks like.”

Berger completed the criminal justice-law enforcement program at CVTC’s River Falls campus, then started in the academy after his May 2019 graduation. The Hudson Police Department hired him a couple of months into the academy.

“I like the hands-on stuff in law enforcement and how every day is fluid and can change in a second,” Berger said. “It's a super interesting job.”

Warner, 33, originally from White Bear Lake, Minn., worked as an operations manager for a company organizing major golf tournaments. He said life changes led him to a new direction.

“My dad was a fireman for St. Paul for 32 years and his best friend was a sergeant for the St. Paul Police Department, and his two sons are police officers,” Warner said. “I was always attracted to the field and decided to go back to school for criminal justice.”

Warner attended Century College in White Bear Lake and Hennepin Technical College. The Hudson Police Department hired him in May and sponsored his enrollment in the academy.

Warner, who has a 5-year-old daughter, added, “I wanted to do something that I've always been passionate about and to have a job that my daughter could be proud of me having.”

McGinty, 28, originally from Lakeville, Minn., earned a degree in aeronautical science and air traffic control from the University of North Dakota, worked as a middle school special education teacher, then joined the Minnesota Air National Guard, working with security forces.

“I fell in love with the career through the military and started working as a community service officer at a local department in Minnesota,” McGinty said. “I realized how much I enjoyed the job working with people and the community and started applying for law enforcement jobs.”

The River Falls Police Department hired him in April and sponsored his enrollment in the academy.

The speaker for the academy graduation ceremony was William Gray, a special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. While working as a financial crimes investigator for the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department in November 2014, he was attacked and stabbed 14 times in the face, neck and hand. He went back to work three months later and continued in his law enforcement career.

Gray urged the graduates to stay close to the people who will help them in their careers.

“When I first started with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office, I was a reserve,” Gray said. “I sought out those people who would take me under their wing. I didn’t go riding with them because I wanted to rub elbows or anything like that. I wanted to learn what my task was going to be.”