AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday morning the 126th Cadet Class of the Austin Police Department hit the pavement for the traditional Chief’s Run.
Starting from the Texas Peace Officers’ Memorial, 35 cadets jogged along side Chief Art Acevedo, assistant chiefs, command staff and training academy staff down Congress Avenue, across the bridge and then to Riverside Drive.
“Not everybody gets a chance to do something in their lives that makes a difference to one or two people, or even five. But to able to make a difference in a huge community like Austin, that’s very dear to my heart,” said Amber Tronco from West Texas.
The run symbolizes connecting with the community and also kicks off the cadet graduation ceremony which is on Friday. The cadets were in training for eight months.
At the start of the run, they heard a pep talk from Acevedo about being an officer and the core principles of serving the community. Acevedo said the run brings up old memories of when he first started as an officer.
“It transports me back to 1986 when I became a police officer with the California Highway Patrol. It means to me that we have some new, young committed officers that are ready to come out here to help keep Austin the safest city, as far as I am concerned, in the country,” said Acevedo.
He said the one piece of advice he gives new officers is to remember why they became police officers: “It’s to serve. It’s not about them. It’s about service to the community. And most importantly, to always remember everybody they come into contact with — good or bad — is somebody’s mother, father, son, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or cousin. So treat folks the way they would want their own family member to be treated because I think that’s what the community expects, I think that’s what we expect of each other and the people we serve should expect no less.”
One of the cadets, Jared Retkofsky, is a former NFL player and Super Bowl XLIII Champion. The former Pittsburgh Steeler said his desire to become an officer stems from growing up in a bad neighborhood and his mother’s addiction to drugs.
“When I was a little kid, I had the opportunity to be around officers a lot, and I had a really good experience. And I wanted the opportunity to give back one day,” said Retokofsky.
The 6-foot-5-inch tall former football player said a lot of what he learned from the field will translate into his new line of duty.
“A lot of it is a team atmosphere. That’s kind of the thing I wanted,” he said. “I’ve spent my entire life in athletics, and there’s not a lot of jobs that offer that type of environment, so working for the Police Department gives me that type of environment, gives me that camaraderie with my teammates, my partners, my brothers in blue.”
The cadets graduate Friday at 7 p.m. at the Great Hill Baptist Church at 10500 Jollyville Road.