VICTORIA Police's best and brightest graduated in what was the organisations biggest graduation in history, and the first ceremony in the last two years.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton congratulated the 300 officers at the Victoria Police Academy across a two-day event on April 30 and May 1, 2022.
Among the graduates was Bendigo police constable Benjamin Drechsler, 23, who said he was eager to finally graduate two years after joining the force.
"It feels good to get that diploma of policing to say you are a qualified policeman," he said.
"It was a special moment."
The 300 constables, who have already commenced their law enforcement careers across the state, got to officially graduate after missing out for a few years because of pandemic restrictions.
Benjamin said it felt "amazing" to know he was a part of history - graduating in the biggest cohort to date.
Mr Patton and Police Minister Lisa Neville gave speeches at the ceremony, and the proud officers got to celebrate with family and friends after.
"This is the biggest graduation in the force's history, and we are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to our newest constables who have chosen to attend this weekend," Mr Patton said.
The graduation ceremonies were held outside and featured the police band, the mounted branch, and shrine guards, as per tradition.
"It was a good time to catch up with squad mates because you don't really get to see them that often because we're scattered throughout the state," Mr Drechsler said.
The 2022 cohort featured officers of various ages who came from different work backgrounds, such as former flight attendants, hospitality workers, electricians, carpenters and a scuba diving instructor.
Their ethnic makeup was highly diverse, including officers with Afghani, Bulgarian, Egyptian, German, Dutch, Swedish and Thai backgrounds.
The recent graduate said the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on all the new constables because it meant they couldn't do their training and duties as they normally would.
"We couldn't go out anymore - because you go out and you get COVID-19," he said
"We couldn't go home because we didn't want to take COVID-19 home.
"So a lot of the time we just stayed in the academy studying and playing board games."
Mr Drechsler, who has always been community minded, had volunteered with the CFA since he was 16, and worked in the army prior to joining the police force.
The young constable said he wanted to become a police officer to help serve his community and it was in his nature.
"I like helping people," he said.
Mr Drechsler said he enjoyed police work and got a lot of fulfillment from his job.
"Being a police officer, you get to actually go out and help your community and jump on things that matter," he said.
When he was able to work as a police officer at Bendigo police station, where he's spent most of his life, Mr Drechsler jumped on the opportunity.
"There's some great mentors here at Bendigo," he said.
"Bendigo is my favourite place to work at."
The ambitious officer said he didn't know what he would be doing in five years time but enjoyed working in the van and being a first responder at crime scenes, and was interested in highway patrolling and investigations.
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