Police Academy graduate proposes to girlfriend at ceremony
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | May 25,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Rutland City’s newest police officer, Ryon Sorrell, surprises his girlfriend Erin O’Neill with a wedding proposal during the Vermont Police Academy’s 95th Basic Training Class graduation Friday. Below, members of the academy’s graduation class are shown.
PITTSFORD — Rutland City Police Officer Ryon Sorrell made the commitment of a lifetime Friday morning.
Surrounded by family, friends and fellow police officers, the 27-year-old graduated from the Vermont Police Academy, but not before getting down on one knee and proposing to his girlfriend of more than a year.
“I was nervous when I went up there, but I always get nervous in big groups like that,” said Sorrell after the graduation ceremony. “We had gone through rehearsal a few times so every time we did rehearsal, I would do the same proposal to a different training instructor. I got turned down every time.” But when the big moment came during Friday’s ceremony, he did not get turned down.
“I was in shock,” said the newly engaged Erin O’Neill, 27.
The couple said they began talking about getting married earlier this year, but Sorrell, to keep the proposal a surprise, told her he would propose later in the summer around late June. All the while, he planned from the beginning to do it during his graduation from the police academy.
“It’s once in a lifetime. I will never be in this place again, so why not ask the person I love to marry me,” Sorrell said.
When O’Neill went to give him his graduation pin, she got the surprise of a lifetime.
“I did not know,” she said. “I was in shock.”
His mother Debbie said the family all thought her son would propose in the summer as he was saying all along. Last week, though, he told them his plan and asked them to keep it a secret. She said they were happy, but had to ask one question: “What if she says no?” That question did not matter Friday.
The couple said they have not discussed when the wedding will be, but it will not be for a while.
At Friday’s graduation ceremony, 36 police officers representing more than 20 departments from all over Vermont took the Oath of Office, promising to serve their communities and uphold the Constitution with integrity, character and honor.
They are the 95th class to successfully complete the 16-week basic training.
“Many trainees traveled long distances after long shifts so that we can be here today,” said Officer Daniel Silver, class president from the Wilmington Police Department, during his address.
“We will all make mistakes — that’s a given in this profession,” Silver said. “Never try to run from your mistakes. ... Trust your training. Trust your fellow officers and most importantly trust your instincts.”
Richard Gauthier, executive director of the Vermont Police Academy, and Sheriff Keith Clark, president of the Vermont’s Sheriffs’ Association, also spoke during the ceremony.
Among the graduates was Brandon Police Officer Adam Murach, who said he was very happy to be done and anxious to get back to work.
“It’s finally over,” he said after the ceremony. “I just want to get back on the road. It was a hard 16 weeks.”
He will be taking a couple of days off before going back on duty.
Four police officers — three with the Vermont State Police and one with the Fair Haven Police Department — were also honored for their completion of canine drug detection school.
Following the ceremony, the graduates lowered their class flag together for one last time.
“We are 95th. We are 95th. We are 95th,” they yelled at the end.