OPD graduates six new officers

Reed Jones knew he wanted to follow in the public service footsteps of his father and older brother after he served in the Marine Corps.
The 23-year-old was one of the six newest officers shown into the Odessa Police Department all of whom graduated from the 17th session of the Odessa Police Academy.
Jones’ father, Randall Jones, is a lieutenant with the Ector County Independent School District Police, while his older brother is Ryan Jones is an engineer at Station No. 5 for Odessa Fire Rescue.
“Right out of high school I joined the Marine Corps and once I got out of that I came home and I knew this is what I was supposed to do,” Reed Jones said after graduation. “I just went straight for it.”
The ceremony took place m. Friday at the MCM Elegante, and though the class size was under double digits in graduates, OPD Chief Mike Gerke said these are six qualities officers.
Gerke admitted OPD is still under staff, but he knows it’s currently about quality not quantity.
“We have to work smarter instead of harder,” Gerke said. “We may be shorthanded, but the citizens deserve a certain level of service and we have to provide that. We have six great officers here that are going to make an absolute difference.”
Randall Jones said it was a proud moment to see his son earn his OPD badge. Randall Jones has served in Odessa law enforcement for 35 years — 21 years with ECISD and 14 with OPD.
“I’m excited, because I’m still assigned OPD SWAT and hopefully in about a year and half he’ll get on,” Randall Jones said.
The six newest officers went through six months of training, which included lessons in driving, firearms and crime scene investigation. Gerke said for the next four months the newest officers will ride along with current officers. The first three and a half months they will shadow officers in the field, while the last two weeks the newest officers will be shadowed by an officer.
The other five newest officers to OPD are Christopher Adams, 26, Brandy Blackmon, 29, William Gryder, 39, Greg Palacios, 23, and Amanda Smead, 27. Four of the six officers — Adams, Blackmon, Jones and Palacios — graduated from either Odessa High or Permian. Gryder graduated from Bay City High School, while Smead is a Midland Lee graduate.
Gerke said the 18th session of the police academy has already begun, but added that OPD is still searching for more officers and encourages more applicants.
“It will be another three and a half months before they are truly on their own,” Gerke said.