NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - John Kohn never made it to Thursday night's police recruit graduation in Norfolk. The 40-year-old died during training last year.
It's a rite of passage where recruits become officers. This is the 87th class to graduate, but this might be the class remembered most.
"With this particular academy, they've been through a lot," said Sgt. Ollan Burruss. "They've been though more than any other academy, because they lost a fellow recruit during their training."
On a night where accomplishments were celebrated, it was tough not to think about John Kohn.
"We learned extremely early in our careers what it's like to lose a teammate," said graduating officer Montrell Martin.
Kohn died in December during defensive training. He was hit in the head repeatedly and suffered massive brain damage.
"John Kohn, as with these recruits on stage, made the selfless decision to dedicate his life to community service," said Chief Sharon Chamberlin.
Kohn's death prompted changes in the way recruits train. They'll no longer be hit in the head and EMTs will now be on hand for all exercises.
"We as a department mourn his loss," Chamberlin added.
In front of the stage sat a plaque to be placed at future academies in Kohn's memory.
"His classmates, the training staff and the department will never forget John Kohn's time with us," Chamberlin said.
Now official police officers, 14 men and women will hit the streets with the 15th watching over them.
"John Kohn will always be remembered to be a part of class 87 and we know that he stands proudly with us here today," Martin added.
Though the recruits graduated, they still will have three months of field training before they are on their own.
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