Monday, June 17, 2013

Graduation from academy fulfills law enforcement dream

Fetuao Fetuao (top left) stands with fellow June 5
graduates from CGCC’s Law Enforcement Training Academy.
In his mid-teens, Fetuao Fetuao was, in his own words, a troublemaker. Although he hadn’t joined any of the gangs in Riverside, Calif. where he grew up, an interaction with a police officer set his course for the future.

Fetuao was a defensive player on the local high school football team. After winning the night’s game, he peeled out of the parking lot in his car and was immediately pulled over by a local officer who berated and swore at Fetuao. During the incident, he remembers thinking that he could probably do a better job of representing law enforcement than this officer.

“I try to treat others with respect and always do the right thing, regardless of the situation,” said Fetuao. “I knew I could make a difference in the community doing something in law enforcement.”

After following a circuitous path that took more than a decade, Fetuao received his certificate of completion from Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s Law Enforcement Training Academy on June 5.

Fetuao came to the U.S. from Samoa at age 13 with his parents and six siblings.  With a strict mother and a father focused on excellence, Fetuao learned self-discipline and developed a competitive nature with himself to do his best. His size and skill landed him a spot on the football team.

After graduation, he was expected to go on a mission, but attended Riverside Community College for two years instead. He played football and was finishing up the last of his eligibility requirements to play at Cal Poly when he decided a mission was something he wanted to do. He was sent to Arizona for two years and fell in love with the land, the heat and, after completing his mission, a woman who would eventually become his wife.

His interest in serving the community led him to become a correctional officer for a private company working with the U.S. Marshalls. Three years in, he realized he wanted to try and influence individuals before they landed in the correctional system.  He learned about the program at CGCC and he enrolled.

“The program is not like other academies,” said Fetuao. “At first, I couldn’t believe that we were being taught by commanders, lieutenants and officers as the faculty. They take the time to teach us the information and apply it to real-life scenarios so we know how to use it when we need to. We learn a lot of things visually and experientially, not just in a class. I haven’t even started my career and I’ve had such great experiences.”

The 10-month, 800+ hour program meets two evenings a week for four hours and all day Saturday, allowing students to attend classes while remaining employed. The training meets Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (Az POST) standards. Upon successful completion of the program and the Az POST comprehensive exam, students are eligible to be certified police officers. Students also earn 30 college credits from CGCC.

Although he hasn’t yet been employed with any of the local police departments, Fetuao has plans for the future, including returning to Samoa periodically to share what he’s learned.
“I want to tell everyone to act on their dreams. When you feel it, find the courage and go for it. You never know until you try,” said Fetuao.

To learn more about CGCC’s law enforcement training academy, visit or contact Jon Terpay, academy director, at 480.988.8756 or

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