West memorial fund awards scholarship to police academy cadet

Jermaine Smith (center) received the Officer Jason West Memorial Fund scholarship at the Cleveland Heights Police Academy graduation on June 28. The award was presented by the organization's president, Lita Gonzalez (at right) and Liz Radivoyevitch, its vice president. [Photo: Lou Radivoyevitch]

The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund (OJWMF) awarded a $5,000 tuition reimbursement scholarship to Jermaine Smith, a June graduate of the Cleveland Heights Police Academy.

The $5,000 award honors Officer West, a member of the Cleveland Heights Police Department who lost his life on May 26, 2007, while responding to a disturbance call. 

“The board felt that Jermaine exemplifies all the qualities that endeared Officer West to the Cleveland Heights community and made him an exemplary police officer,” said Lita Gonzalez, OJWMF board president. "He will be an asset to whichever police department and community he chooses to serve.”

In his application, Smith wrote that he sees becoming a police officer as not just a job but a calling. He said he is passionate about helping people and making a difference in his community.

Previously, Smith worked in a mental health hospital. That experience, he said, has helped him approach crisis situations in a way that can de-escalate potential conflict and maintain a safe environment for everyone.

The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund was created shortly after West's death. It has awarded 23 scholarships to Heights High graduates who planned careers in law enforcement. The fund also awarded tuition reimbursement scholarships to two past recipients, enabling them to attend the CH Police Academy. OJWMF is currently focused on providing tuition reimbursement for selected CH Police Academy cadets. 

OJWMF plans to award another tuition reimbursement scholarship to at least one member of the December 2023 CH Police Academy class.

For more information, visit www.officerjasonwest.org and follow the Office Jason D. West fund's Facebook page.

Joy Henderson

Joy Henderson is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights who volunteers on the marketing committee for The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 9:19 AM, 07.18.2023