CJI Graduates Give Back


Nineteen students graduated from the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) Basic Law Enforcement Class on August 25, leaving behind more than just memories of defensive tactics and first aid training. Through fundraisers, the class made a $1,250 donation to the Valencia Foundation for the Deputy First Class Brandon Lee Coates Memorial Scholarship. Deputy Coates, a CJI graduate, was shot and killed in the line of duty in December 2010.

“My best memory of this class is their commitment to service for the community,” said Jeff Tursellino the instructional coordinator at CJI responsible for seeing this class through to graduation. Students who enroll in the program are required by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to complete 770 hours of intensive study and physical training.

“These students worked full-time and some even had second part-time jobs,” said Tursellino. “On their own time they donated at blood drives here at CJI; participated in a contraband sweep at the Osceola County Corrections Facility; worked the Kicks for Guns event that recovered over 2,000 guns; volunteered at the Orlando Police Department Barn Beautification Project at their Mounted Unit; and hosted a car wash at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.” All proceeds went to the Coates Memorial Scholarship.

While at CJI, recruits focus their time in four high liability areas; Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations, First Aid for Criminal Justice Officers, Criminal Justice Firearms, and Criminal Justice Defensive Tactics. In addition to the high liability areas, they are required to pass thirteen difficult written tests in thirteen academic areas. Tursellino’s class began with 31 students and 19 graduated.

There are 41 Criminal Justice Training Centers in the state and Tursellino believes CJI provides “the best training anywhere in Florida.”

The graduates are now entitled to participate in the State Officer Certification Exam. All 19 are scheduled to take the exam on August 31. Individuals who have completed the required Basic Recruit Training and passed the State Officer Certification Examination have four years from the start date of their academy class to become employed as a law enforcement officer in Florida.

Four of the graduates were already hired and sworn-in by the Orlando Police Department’s Chief Paul Rooney at the graduation ceremony. Many of the other students are in the hiring process with several agencies in Central Florida.

If you are interested in learning more about this class, CJI, or the Brandon Lee Coates Memorial Scholarship, please contact Jeff Tursellino.

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