Tuesday, March 23, 2021
By Rob Pigman, Director, Criminal Justice Institute
There was a definite mix of nervousness and anticipation in the room on Friday, September 25, 2020 — Day 1 of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy 20-05. But, the following Monday, we would learn that a classmate was involved in a horrific motorcycle crash that forever changed his life. This was a recruit who attended only one day of the police academy, believing he was finally realizing his dream of being a deputy sheriff.
Recruit Muhammad Cheema crashed his motorcycle on State Road 417 and has spent months in the hospital and rehabilitation centers. He is now paralyzed from the chest down and faces many difficult days ahead learning to deal with his many life-altering injuries.
The class members banded together and raised $1,905 to give to the former recruit and classmate to assist him with his mounting medical bills.
Muhammad is in Jacksonville at a rehabilitation center and told the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that when he returns to Orlando, he will be ready to drive himself to the Sheriff’s Office Central Operations Center and rejoin his employment as a civilian employee. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has maintained his employment status and benefits throughout this time.
Not every class has the fortitude or follow through to conduct fundraisers, much less to do so for a fellow recruit who only spent one day with them. They never forgot Muhammad and spoke of him often. They inquired about his condition, reached out to him and continued their relationship with him following his accident. This class was generous and kind in all that they did, from volunteering with Toys for Tots to helping fellow recruits study and pass all tests.
The class graduated on Thursday, February 18, 2021, and members will be starting their careers in law enforcement. I am very confident that this class of recruits will go on to professionally serve our community with the utmost dignity, empathy and respect.
Kudos to Basic Law Enforcement Academy 20-05.