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SPD welcomes six new cadets
Trainees share common desire to help, serve
Photo Courtesy Statesboro Police Department The Statesboro Police Department's six newest cadets: first row, left to right, Nicholas Sparks-Hoskins, Kasey Baynon and Caroline Smart. Back row, left to right, Zachary Payne, Sean Yekel and Kyle Wright.
The Statesboro Police Department's six newest cadets: first row, left to right, Nicholas Sparks-Hoskins, Kasey Baynon and Caroline Smart. Back row, left to right, Zachary Payne, Sean Yekel and Kyle Wright. (Photo Courtesy Statesboro Police Department)

Statesboro soon will have six new police officers on patrol, answering calls and helping keep residents safe. 

They come from different backgrounds, and each has a different reason for wanting to be a police officer, but all six of the Statesboro Police Department’s newest recruits have one thing in common: a deep respect for the department and the way it operates. 

The cadets began training at the end of May and will head to the Police Academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Savannah on July 5 for the 11-week program.

The following is an introduction to the six recruits.

 

Kasey Baynon 

A Statesboro native, Kasey Baynon, 22, is a Statesboro High School graduate. An interest in law enforcement from an early age led her to attend Emanuel College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. 

“I have lived here all my life, and I feel being a police officer is just a good fit for my personality,” she said.

Part of that personality may surprise some — Baynon is a skilled wrestler, with 10 years of competition experience under her belt. Wrestling in high school and college “made me more aware of my surroundings” and, should a suspect ever decide to get physical and try to escape, some of those wrestling moves may come in handy, she said.

“Wrestling gave me a tougher mindset, a stronger mentality,” Baynon said.

As a police officer, she hopes to be in a position to help others.

“I kind of want to help people in their time of need,” she said. “Being a police officer will allow me to help people during their worst times.”

Although Baynon already was a fan of her hometown, getting to know more about the Statesboro Police Department sealed her decision to join the force.

“I love how the people of Statesboro and the police department work together for the good of the community,” she said,

 

Sean Yekel 

Having a father who is a regional attorney and who was once a special agent in Alabama meant Sean Yekel grew up familiar with crime and the law. The 22-year-old is from Effingham County and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology while minoring in psychology at Georgia Southern University. 

“I already knew I wanted to go into law enforcement, but then I interned with Georgia State Patrol Post 45 in Statesboro,” he said, adding that his time there “showed me what I wanted to do.”

He said traffic enforcement didn’t strike a chord with him as the focus of a career, but he learned a lot from the GSP Post 45 troopers with whom he worked. 

City policing is more his style, he said.

“I really want to be there in the time of need, because I love Statesboro and want to help people here,” he said.

He was drawn to the Statesboro Police Department because “it is a great department.”

“I like the way they operate, and they offer good benefits,” he said. 

Yekel loves cars and enjoys working on his 2006 Ford Mustang. He also enjoys computers and has built his own. Another interest is firearms — “especially old military rifles,” he said. 

 

Zachary Payne 

Originally from Missouri, Zachary Payne moved to Savannah in 2011 and to Statesboro in 2014.

“We had family here,” he said.

After graduating from Statesboro High School, he attended Georgia Southern University, studying criminal justice and sociology. He has worked in the food and beverage industry but soon will wear a Statesboro Police officer uniform. 

The 29-year-old's father worked with the Illinois Department of Corrections, “so I kind of grew up around law enforcement,” he said. “I always knew it was what I wanted to do.” 

He noticed how the Statesboro Police Department has “grown under Chief (Mike) Broadhead’s leadership” and said he is impressed with the department’s “sense of transparency.”

As for his personal desire to wear a badge, Payne said, “I want to have a sense of being there for the community and helping people from multiple walks of life.”

When he learned of available positions at the SPD, Payne knew it was the path he needed to take. 

In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing — “mostly fiction,” he said — and horror movies. 

 

Nick Hoskins 

Graduating with a degree from Georgia Southern University in logistics and supply chain management may not on the surface seem to lead to a law enforcement career, but Nick Hoskins has “friends of the family in law enforcement,” and that piqued his interest in seeking a position with the Statesboro Police Department. 

The 22-year-old former Pembroke resident graduated from Bryan County High School. He was a member of the GSU Pistol Team, and while working with the Police Officers Foundation during shooting practices and matches, the topic of policing often came up. 

“I love firearms and shooting,” he said.

Talking with other officers made him realize he might enjoy working as a police officer. 

Earlier this year, when a massive tornado ripped through his hometown, Hoskins had the opportunity to work with several first responders and volunteers in helping with the relief efforts. The experience added to his desire to serve and help others, he said.

In looking into positions open at the Statesboro Police Department, Hoskins noticed something.

“I love how the department interacts with the community and how it wants to see individual officers grow to help the community,” he said. 

During his spare time, Hoskins loves being outside, hunting, camping and fishing. 

 

Caroline Smart 

At age 20, “I am the baby of the (cadet) group,” Caroline Smart said with a laugh.

Originally from Atlanta, she came to Statesboro because “I have family in the area.”

She is attending Georgia Southern University, majoring in criminal justice. 

Smart trains dogs, including her Belgian Malinois, “Riot,” doing bite work and tracking — so being a K9 officer may be in her future, she said. 

Speaking with the Statesboro Herald while at her own firing range on private property, she said she also enjoys riding horses — English style in the past, but she has begun learning ranch work, she said.

“I have also been hunting since I was little. Guns and shooting have always been a part of me,” she said. 

She is looking forward to working as a Statesboro Police officer.

“I really like the interaction between the department and the community,” she said. “The community treats the officers well, and the department is better managed than most.”

In her spare time, Smart can be found working with her dog, learning how to rope and rein from horseback and practicing on her firing range.

 

Kyle Wright 

Juggling military responsibilities and taking political science classes at Georgia Southern University isn’t enough action for Kyle Wright — he wants to be a police officer, too. 

The 22-year-old Augusta native entered the United States Marine Corps Reserves right out of high school, but then he started studying at GSU, too. During all this activity, he married wife Abygale, and they just celebrated their two-year anniversary, he said. 

He wants to join the Statesboro Police Department because “I have always been interested in law enforcement, and having met many through the military who were also in law enforcement, I saw how it worked out well for them,” he said.

When he looked into openings with the Statesboro Police, “I found that every interaction with the department has been good,” he said. “The officers are very professional, and I have been impressed with every aspect of the department.” 

When he has spare time, Wright enjoys spending time with his family, enjoying the outdoors, camping, hiking and “keeping physically fit.” 

 

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 243-7815. 

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