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Police academy grad’s dedication pays off with LEEP Award

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

John D’Amico took the necessary steps to prepare for and put himself through the Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA) and his initiative showed in his academic and training performance.

“I already had my associate’s in Criminal Justice from Oakland Community College,” D’Amico said of the degree he completed in 2015. “I’ve been working security full time. I’ve been saving up money so I didn’t have to get a loan and I could pay for the academy outright.”

Photo courtesy of LERTA                                         POLC Executive Committee member Collin Birnie (left) presents a $2,000 LEEP Award to Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy (LERTA) graduate John D’Amico at the Dec. 21 academy graduation.

D’Amico was honored with a $2,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award for making his mark among a class of 20 recruits who graduated Dec. 21, 2017 from the Mott Community College academy.

“The award is a scholarship presented to the highest scoring pre-service recruit,” said Lt. David Livingston, LERTA Director.

The class itself had a lot of successes. “Starting out we had a split class, 10 sponsored, 10 not,” Livingston said. While academy was still in session, police departments hired four of the non-sponsored recruits: two were hired by Flint Police, one by Ovid Police and another placed with Chesaning Police Department.

D’Amico was working in security at Twelve Oaks Mall while attending the academy. “I had to cut back. I was actually a supervisor there,” he said. “I would work every other weekend on a Saturday so it still kept me employed with the company.”

He went back to full-time security work after graduation until he was hired full-time by the Brighton Police, a POLC-represented department, in February 2018.

The 25-year-old seems to have been preparing for law enforcement from a young age. “I did martial arts since I was 14. I’ve been in it 10 or 11 years,” he said. “I’m an instructor with Treger Studio of Martial Arts in Highland.” D’Amico began teaching martial arts in 2009 and now works part-time, acting as an instructor for private lessons as needed for individuals ages four to 70. D’Amico is a third-degree black belt; many-time AAU State Champion in both Tae Kwon Do and Shotokan Karate; proficient in Brazilian Ju Jitsu; has numerous first place tournament finishes; teaches a special fighting class for tournament team members; and is one of Treger Studio’s first black belt students, according to the Treger Studio’s website.

“Once I started instructing marital arts … it helped show me I really wanted to help people and guide people in that way,” D’Amico said.

While no one in his family is involved in law enforcement, he said, “Growing up, one of my friends’ dad was an Oakland County Deputy. Based on the level of character he showed, it kind of inspired me to go into it. Between my friends’ dad and martial arts, it made it clear I wanted to go into law enforcement.”

The LEEP Award was one more nudge toward his future career. “It’s definitely going to kick start everything. Not making any money while you’re going through academy definitely puts a strain on your accounts,” D’Amico said. “It was a pleasant surprise for sure. It’s going to help out with bills and some other things.”

D’Amico got his wish, finding his first law enforcement job just minutes from his Brighton Township residence. “I’d like to stay more local with my family being in Milford and me being in Brighton,” he said just after graduation.

© 2014 LEEP Law Enforcement Education Program

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