Friday, April 14, 2017 | 2 a.m.
It’s a longstanding tradition in Metro Police academy graduation ceremonies — if a family member of a new recruit served in law enforcement, that officer gets to pin the badge on the new graduate.
This was the case for the Freeman family about 23 years ago, when now-retired Sgt. David Arlington Freeman placed the shiny object on his son’s chest. Among the two men, a Freeman has served in the department since 1965.
On Thursday afternoon, the elder Freeman, 73, witnessed his son passing on the legacy to his grandson, 23-year-old Spencer.
Spencer Freeman is one of 70 new academy graduates who were commemorated in a ballroom at Red Rock Resort in a ceremony in which hundreds of attendees, including family members, Metro personnel and officials, cheered them on.
After moving through the final phases of training, the group will be ready to patrol the streets of Clark County.
“It means a lot to all of us,” Spencer Freeman said. “I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I was in fifth grade … I saw my dad in uniform, I saw (my grandfather) in uniform. Ever since, I knew this is what I wanted to do and it’s a really cool moment to finally get it done.”
A video that portrayed various Metro's duties, a color guard ceremony and a prayer kicked off the approximately two-hour event in which smiling family members hooted out praise. Many other graduates also had family members in officer apparel pin badges on them.
Spencer’s father, David Eugene Freeman, who gave his son his own badge, is a soon-to-be retired detective with Metro’s fatal detail, which investigates crashes. His father was a sergeant with the motorcycle unit.
Like his grandfather and father, Spencer will briefly serve alongside his father, following the generational tradition.
When asked about how he feels about following in the footsteps of the elder Freemans, Spencer said, "It's huge because (our name has) a good reputation within the department. My grandpa spent a lot of time; my dad spent a lot of time. It's a well-trusted name, so I hope I can hold that name up to the standard."
Spencer seems to be following his grandfather's path. Just like grandpa, he served in the military, as a member of the Nevada National Guard, and married and fathered a baby girl around the same age as the elder Freeman.
Could his daughter follow in his own footsteps? His grandpa thinks so. “Twenty-one years from now, I’m going to have a little talk with her about being the first female Freeman (to be) a policewoman," he said.
Police work has evolved in the past decades, David Arlington Freeman said, but the duties of officers remain the same: They're peacekeepers tasked with protecting the population — an honorable, arduous, demanding career with deep responsibilities. "Many are called, but few are chosen."
He said he was looking forward to the celebration dinner later in the day when he would provide his grandson with police equipment, pull him aside and have him read one of his favorite Bible passages. "I just hope that he follows in our footsteps and has a successful and safe career," he added.
On Thursday, soon after Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo led the recruits in a recitation of an oath, in which they raised their right hand, Freeman appeared ecstatic to take on the challenge. “It’s an amazing experience and it’s just cool to finally be here.”
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