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Grads ready to serve and protect

BY MARC BEJA | marc.beja@newsday.com

10:42 AM EDT, July 23, 2008

While running the required one and a half miles during his third week of training, Michael Goropeuschek broke his leg. His doctors said he would be unable to continue the intense basic training at the police academy -- he would need to heal and wait to join the next class of recruits.

Instead, Goropeuschek graduated on time. With honors.

"I went back against my doctor's orders," said a grinning Goropeuschek of Franklin Square. "I've wanted to be a police officer pretty much my whole life."

Goropeuschek, a former ambulance medical technician for the Nassau County Police Department, was one of 46 members of the January 2008 graduating class from the police academy, in a ceremony Tuesday at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

The recruits were selected from a pool of applicants who took a 2003 civil service test. After six months of basic training, including academic courses, firearms proficiency and physical training, the graduates became full-time employees of Nassau County Tuesday.

Proud parents, spouses, children and other family members snapped photographs of their loved ones as they paraded down the aisles in their new uniforms.

"The most important function of government is to protect the people," Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman told the graduates during a commencement speech.

"You are police officers all day every day, not just when you punch in and out like other jobs," Weitzman said. "You are the backbone of the police department."

Goropeuschek, who was selected by his classmates to speak at the commencement on behalf of the other graduates, had a message for his daughter Rhiannon.

"I cannot tell you how many times my eight-year-old daughter asked me how long until this would all be over," the newly appointed deputy sheriff said, addressing the crowd. "Rhiannon, today is the day."


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