Alex N. Wentland said it felt surreal Tuesday afternoon in the Bradenton City Council chambers where the 25-year-old Bradenton resident and three others were sworn in as new officers with the Bradenton Police Department.
“Honored to be here. Honored to have gone through the training and accepted the badge,” Wentland said. “I’m looking forward to the future and the training upcoming.”
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan presided over the 4:30 p.m. Tuesday ceremony involving Wentland; Donald E. Davis Jr., 23, of Seffner (moving soon to Bradenton); Brian T. Hall, 27, of Bradenton; and Brian V. Sands, 22, of Bradenton.
I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement. It took a while to get there, you know, every road has its bumps but I made it and it was the right time. Everything happens for a reason.
Alex Wentland, new Bradenton police officer
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In addition to swearing in the newest officers, Bradenton police Lt. John B. Affolter was also promoted to captain. Affolter began his career with the agency in May 1994 as a patrol officer and has served as a SWAT Team member and K-9 officer, patrol sergeant, and Detective Division commanding officer, according to a release. In March 2015, Affolter was named commanding officer of professional standards. As captain, he will serve as the Patrol Support Division executive officer.
“I’m excited about the challenges that are ahead,” Affolter said shortly after the ceremony. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”
Wentland said he’s wanted to be a law enforcement officer since he was a “little kid riding training wheels.”
“I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement. It took a while to get there, you know, every road has its bumps but I made it and it was the right time,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
I’m a person who loves to speak and you come across a lot of people that need a word and need an ear to listen to. I’m in a position where I can do that.
Donald E. Davis Jr., new Bradenton police officer
Just outside the chambers after the ceremony, the new officers gathered with loved ones by a table with cake. Standing near his family, Davis said he felt amazing. His love for law enforcement grew several years ago after hearing a professor speak.
“I’m a person who loves to speak and you come across a lot of people that need a word and need an ear to listen to,” he said. “I’m in a position where I can do that. I’m in a position where people look for me to do that, and that’s why I look forward to.”
Davis’ grandmother, Peggy Goode, watched proudly earlier as he posed for photos nearby.
“I’m just overwhelmed. When I first walked in, I just wanted to cry. I was just so happy and rejoiced. ... I just wanted to cry,” the 69-year-old said. “I am so grateful for him.”