From left, David Nelson, COM Basic Peace Officer Academy Director Thom Karlok and Chasity Porter.

Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical services, two College of the Mainland Basic Peace Officer Academy students received awards for excellence at graduation.

David Nelson won the Top Gun Award, and Chasity Porter earned highest class average and won the Academic Achievement Award.

Porter is proudest of being able to show the award to her 10-year-old son.

“If mom keeps her grades up, he has to keep his grades up,” explained Porter. “It’s become a competition of what’d you get on your test?’”

She’s completed many hours at COM, earning the EMT-basic, EMT-intermediate and paramedic certificates at COM as well as graduating from the COM Fire Academy.

While influenced by many instructors who are current police officers, she said one in particular made a difference, Galveston County Deputy Bob Williamson.

"I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s been doing this for 40 years,” said Porter. “He is a wealth of knowledge. He gave us stories to relate to. It was not just a book.”

Earning the Top Gun Award for having the highest accuracy on the shooting range, David Nelson earned an associate degree in criminal justice from COM and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University. He worked at the county jail before entering the COM police academy.

“I’m 100 percent ready to get back (into law enforcement),” said Nelson. “It’s just a calling. I’ve wanted to be (a police officer) since I was five years old (to have) the ability to help people and to make a difference.”

He trained in the 19-week course covering how to investigate, write reports, properly use force and diffuse situations verbally.

“The entire Police Academy staff were very helpful,” said Nelson. "I would have not been able to do it without their guidance.”

Through a combination of real-life scenario training and classes, COM Basic Peace Officer Academy students prepare for success. In recent years graduates have achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the state exam.

For more information on the COM Basic Peace Officer Academy, visit