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Six OPD graduates sworn in during ceremony

The six graduates of the 14th Session of the Odessa Police Department s Police Academy appeared relatively small in number but they all drew loud and hearty cheers from a phalanx of loved ones Thursday as the new officers were sworn in during an upbeat ceremony at the MCM Elegante Hotel.

Odessa s newly minted finest were lauded for having completed the 24-week training session, which new OPD Chief Mike Gerke noted is not for the faint of heart. It was learned during the ceremony that one graduate continued with the training despite his dislocated elbow while another almost knocked an instructor out because he didn t realize the instructor was tapping out during training.

The ceremony, which was Gerke s first as the new police chief, was highlighted by Gerke s reminder during opening remarks that while the life of a police officer is not an easy one, the OPD s newest officers stand to make many friends in the department. But Gerke urged the graduates to go out and make new connections, and to find friends outside of the department.

This is a very exciting time for the Odessa Police Department, Gerke said. There were initially seven people who signed up for the 14th Session but one dropped out. Having a small number of recruits sign up for the OPD s Police Academy is nothing new as the number also tends to fluctuate from one session to the next. The OPD s next session is slated to begin July 10, OPD Capt. Jerry Harvell said.

The six graduates of the program now bring the number of vacancies in the OPD to the low 20s, Gerke said.

I am just excited we got six more officers in the streets, Gerke said. Excited was how 44-year-old New Orleans native Glenda Lomax felt the moment she realized her long sought-after dream of becoming a blue knight. It is something Lomaz said she always wanted to do since the days she worked as a correctional officer in Lamesa and a security officer in Maryland. Lomax, who is the sole woman among the six graduates, and the oldest, earned an associate s degree in accounting during her long journey to becoming a police officer.

God brought me here, and He led me to this career to protect and serve, Lomax said.

While getting acclimated to the Odessa community, 22-year-old Tyler Silverthorn, who was born in Michigan but raised in Watertown, N.Y., said he is looking forward to starting his law enforcement in earnest.

I m getting used to different kinds of heat, Silverthorn said. I just want to be a good officer and to do good things.

Marco Antonio Barreno Jr. is a 34-year-old native of Pecos and had served 14 years in the United States Air Force. Not only was Barreno praised for his military service, but he was noted for having served five tours overseas, which consisted of two tours in Afghanistan, one tour in Qatar, one tour in Korea and a final tour in England, he said.

The discipline and the structure, Barreno said when asked what drew him to law enforcement. After serving his country for as long as he did, Barreno said he wanted to do the same for the community.

Murders spike in Mexico, with May deadliest month in decades

by PETER ORSI and LISA MARTINE JENKINS, Associated Press

Murders Spike In Mexico, With May Deadliest Month In Decades

A soldier and police stand guard outside at a private school in Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2016. A 15-year-old student opened fire with a gun at the school, hitting a teacher and two other students in the head before killing himself. (AP Photo/Emilio Vazquez)

MEXICO CITY (AP) May was Mexico’s bloodiest month in at least 20 years and homicides are up sharply in 2017 compared with last year, new government crime statistics show.

Statistics published Tuesday by the Interior Department said 2,186 people were murdered last month. The previous monthly high was 2,131 in May 2011, according to a review of publicly available records that date back to 1997. During the first five months of 2017, there were 9,916 killings nationwide an increase of about 30 percent over the 7,638 slain during the same period last year.

“Pretty grim. Not shocking, because we’ve seen this for months,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said. “But, yeah, it’s really grim.”

Mexico launched a militarized offensive over a decade ago to combat drug cartels that plague parts of the country. Homicides fell somewhat after peaking in 2011 but have risen again. At the state level, Baja California Sur saw the biggest jump in the first five months of 2017. After registering 36 killings during the same period in 2016, that spiked by 369 percent to 169 this year.

There were also significant increases in Veracruz (93 percent), Quintana Roo (89 percent) and Sinaloa (76 percent). On Wednesday, Veracruz Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes said at a news conference that seven bags containing two dismembered bodies had been left outside the personal office of the state security chief Tuesday night. Armed men had also attacked three workers hanging a billboard with photographs and a reward offered for area criminal suspects. Hope said the violence is being driven in part by “the weakening of the Sinaloa drug cartel” whose top boss, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was extradited to face drug charges in the United States earlier this year. Hope also noted “the parallel rise of the Jalisco (New Generation) cartel.”

In Baja California Sur in particular, Hope said, a Sinaloa faction is battling for control both against rivals within the cartel and externally against Jalisco. Hope also cited increased heroin trafficking, difficulties implementing a new criminal justice system and insufficient federal police response to the crime surge.

Total homicides for the January-May period declined from 2016 in just four states Campeche, Coahuila, Mexico State and Nuevo Leon and nowhere did the drop exceed 6 percent.

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Associated Press writer Lev Garcia in Xalapa contributed to this report.

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Peter Orsi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi

Massive brawl near Cedar Point Apartments; 11 arrested

SANDUSKY Police arrested 11 people at Cedar Point after a huge brawl, with people being pepper-sprayed and a man hit with a Taser when he attempted to take an officer s gun. A unruly crowd of hundreds believed to have been park patrons and Cedar Point staff encircled officers and combatants about 2 a.m. Monday outside the Cedar Point Commons Apartments in the continuation of an earlier altercation, according to police reports and Sandusky police Detective Sgt. Kevin Youskievicz. Multiple departments responded to disperse the crowd. According to police reports, Carlos Demetrius Clayton, 19, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio was seen pushing through employees outside the apartments. When security guards tried to intervene, he started to fight them, prompting a Cedar Point police officer to join the fray.

During the struggle, staff and the officer got Mr. Clayton to his knees, when he reached behind him and tried to take the officer s gun, according to police. At that point, another officer stunned Mr. Clayton in the back with a Taser, and he stopped struggling. He was charged with assault on a police officer, aggravated robbery, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and underage consumption. A crowd of several hundred people gathered around during the fray and began closing in on officers and yelling at them, causing them to tell the crowd to get back. Some did not, and either tried to intervene or stop officers from arresting members of the crowd, according to police. Multiple other fights broke out in the crowd.

Arrested along with Mr. Clayton were:

Anthony Freeman, 18, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, charged with four counts of riot, along with failure to disperse and resisting arrest;

Kainan Kordero-Kendrick Reed, 20, of Clinton Township, Mich., charged with riot and resisting arrest;

Paula Ann Smith, 19, of Toledo charged with four counts riot, and a count each of failure to disperse, resisting arrest, underage consumption;

Jakari J. Willis, 19, of Oak Park, Mich., charged with riot, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest;

Russell Lee Donahue, 22, of Detroit charged with riot;

Yulani M. Rodgers, 18, of Triangle, Va., charged with four counts riot, and one count each of failure to disperse, resisting arrest, and underage consumption;

Roshown Baker, 18, of Detroit, charged with riot;

Brittany Hawkin, 18, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., charged with four counts riot, and one count each of failure to disperse, resisting arrest, underage consumption;

Angel Barnes, 18, of Harper Woods, Mich., charged with resisting arrest;

Justin Eddie-Marquez, 21, of Detroit charged with four counts of riot and one count each of failure to disperse, resisting arrest, and underage consumption. His arrest occurred on the eve of his 21st birthday.

Detective Sergeant Youskievicz said police were not sure what prompted the brawl. An officer suffered cuts on her elbow and a finger, while a security guard had a swollen face from being punched.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:

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