Director Craft helps select LEEP Award winner before retiring
— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Former Macomb Police Academy Director Charles Craft recently said his goodbyes to staff and students, but not before he selected the most recent LEEP Award winner.
“It’s been a great job,” Craft said, adding that he would continue to visit colleagues at the academy. “Obviously those people have become my really good friends.”
And he had nothing but accolades for Spring 2016 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award winner, Joshua Baker. “Not only did staff elect him for outstanding performance in the LEEP scholarship, his fellow cadets voted him (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) MCOLES Outstanding Performance Award winner,” Craft said. “He did a great job, had the respect of his classmates and the staff and the instructors. He’s a very worthy recipient.”
Baker, 21, graduated with an Associate’s degree from St. Clair Community College in General Education, and followed in his father, Port Huron Police Captain Jeff Baker’s, footsteps pursuing a career in law enforcement.
“Joshua was an overwhelming favorite amongst his cadet peers and by the academy administrative staff,” said Academy Director Ray Macksoud, who also serves as Criminal Justice Training Director.
“The (MCOLES) award provides recognition to the basic training participants who exhibit high standards of performance measured by their mental, physical and moral fitness while in the training environment. It’s pretty prestigious. They give out one in each academy.”
“He got the most votes from the cadets and the staff selected him as well based on his total demeanor for the academy and his leadership skills,” Macksoud said of the MCOLES award. “He was just an outstanding cadet. He demonstrated very mature qualities — the things we look for in a police officer.”
The LEEP Award is given twice yearly to graduates with the highest overall achievement who have not been sponsored by any police agency. To qualify, the cadets had to pass the MCOLES certification test and meet MCOLES employment standards to become certifiable as law enforcement officers in Michigan. “It’s really based on the totality of their performance. He was in the top group of academics performance, but he was also in the top group of our physical fitness training and all the skills assessments. He was consistency high in everything,” Craft said. “He was very well-rounded.”
Craft, who has met Captain Baker a few times, was impressed with his son from day one. “It was just apparent right from the first day of class that he was going to be an outstanding cadet,” Craft said. “He has great interpersonal skills, he knows how to focus. He wasn’t Number 1 in any particular area, but he was in the top group in everything.”
The $1,000 LEEP grant was much appreciated by Baker. “It’s going to help me pay off part of my student loan, so I can focus on filling out job applications, going on interviews and moving forward in my career,” Baker said. “I wanted to thank everybody who provided the LEEP Scholarship Award,” Baker said. “It’s going to be a very big help to me. I look forward to serving the community in the future.”
Baker also wanted to thank Craft, Macksoud and Instructor Gregory Scott for all the help they provided him and Class 99. Macksoud said the academy staff appreciates the fact that LEEP provides one award to each Macomb Academy graduating class. “Most of them can really use them,” Macksoud said. “We selected (Baker) as a staff, based on leadership abilities and the demeanor we look for that police officers display daily. The students select the top cadet in the class, who’s consistently on top of things.”
Craft said Baker, who graduated among a class of 43, is interviewing with several departments. “As a pre-service cadet, he’s just outstanding,” Macksoud said. “We would be fast to recommend him to people.”
“I believe he will quickly find employment,” Craft said. “He’s going to be an asset to whoever gets him.”
Baker, who grew up in Port Huron and lives in Marysville now, said he wants to work in an agency in Macomb County or Oakland County. “I’ve seen the life that (law enforcement) provides and that intrigued me,” Baker said of his father. “I’ve seen the camaraderie with his coworkers and the rewarding experience he has with his community and that inspired me to be a police officer.”