Gavin Nishiyori and Dylan Rice are two new faces out on patrol as part of the Puyallup Police Department.
“Everyone has been really supportive and we feel welcome,” Nishiyori said.
The two new officers were part of a 28-member graduating class of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at the state Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien on Sept. 11. They began their specific training as part of the Puyallup Police Department the next day. The training will be a minimum of 15 weeks, depending on their individual progress.
“These are young men,” said Jeff Bennett, a police training officer assigned to Nishiyori. “Driving (a squad car in training) is the biggest difference.”
“You have to start at ground zero and work up from there,” said John Berg, a police training officer assigned to Rice.
During the 20-week academy Nishiyori, 23, and Rice, 22, learned police theory and law and how they apply. That includes defensive tactics, firearms training, criminal law, investigations, criminal procedures and crisis intervention.
“In field training on that first day, we apply that limited knowledge into the real world,” Bennett said.
Sometimes there is a big learning curve, Bennett and Berg said. For example, the realization that, as officers, Rice and Nishiyori can speed through a red light while they’re in pursuit of a suspect.
“The first week of training has taught me that I have so much to learn and that I don’t know where to start,” Rice said. “I’m learning to take it one call, one day at a time.”
Nishiyori and Rice both said they’ve have had their fair share of “aha” moments. For Nishiyori, it was arresting someone on his third day for felony possession of elicit drugs.
“It was a revelation of the authority I have,” Nishiyori said.
During his first week, Rice hadn’t made an arrest. But that hasn’t changed the way he feels about the weight of his responsibilities and power.
“Being out there and having people looking to me to the solve the problems has been the biggest ‘aha’ moment I’ve had so far,” Rice said.
Nishiyori and Rice both grew up in Pierce County. Nishiyori was home-schooled in Bonney Lake and served in the U.S. Army for three years, including one year in Iraq in 2009. He chose to go into law enforcement because of the opportunity it gave him to continue to serve his community.
Meanwhile, Rice was raised in Puyallup and graduated from Cascade Christian High School in 2008.
“I had a friend at Cascade Christian whose uncle was in law enforcement,” Rice said. “I did a ride-along with him when I was 16 years old.”
Nishiyori and Rice are required to serve in patrol for three years. Following that, they can opt to explore other divisions within the department.
Nishiyori said he’s open to exploring but isn’t sure which direction he wants to go.
Rice said being part of the department’s bicycle patrol is appealing.
Both officers fill previous retirements and separations within the department, Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter said.
“These two young men fit the mold for what we’re looking for in future leaders for the department and the community,” Jeter said. “Both have excellent leadership qualities.”
Jeter said it’s always exciting to bring new blood into the department.
“It lights the fire under our veteran officers,” he said.
Nishiyori and Rice will start with an annual salary of $57,725.52.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.