“We are both very close, but we’ll go wherever we get hired. We know we’re not going to be together,” said Sam.
Charles and Sam have been nearly as inseparable as they are indistinguishable from one another. In 2008, the identical twins graduated together from Chippewa Falls Senior High School, where they played both soccer and basketball. They attended UW-Stout together for two years, then both transferred to UW-Eau Claire, where they took up majors in criminal justice. They graduated together in May 2013.
Then came the 14-week CVTC Law Enforcement Academy, which consists of a series of classes held five days a week, eight hours a day, leading up to the granting of the certificate needed for employment as a public law enforcement officer in Wisconsin. A major requirement for admission is a minimum of 60 college-level credits, according to Eric Anderson, associate dean of the Emergency Services programs at CVTC. CVTC’s program is highly regarded, and Academy students can come from all over the state. The Welbourns were among 17 graduates in this spring’s class.
Back at Stout, Charles was listed as an engineering major, but Sam was undecided. They talked together about their next move before choosing law enforcement.
“We like the legal aspect of it,” Charles said. “And we liked the problem-solving aspect of it, and you get to work with your community through many different angles.”
“We like the unpredictability of the job. Every day is something new,” Sam added.
Yes, law enforcement can be a dangerous job, but that did not deter the Welbournes.
“It never crossed our minds,” Charles said. “It’s there, but it doesn’t affect us one bit.”
That’s because they will rely on the training they received at the Academy that taught them how to be conscious of the dangers, and how to look out for their own safety while serving the public.
“We had really good instructors here,” Sam said. “Passing on their life experiences was really valuable to us.”
One of the Welbourns’ fellow graduates, Joshua Pettis, spoke of safety in his remarks as the class speaker.
“Each day on duty, remember officer safety. You want to go home feeling as well as you did when you started,” Pettis said.
Pettis also advised the graduates to use their heads in every situation. “Your mind is your greatest weapon. Be sure to use it,” he said.
The guest speaker was Dallas Neville, the United States marshal for the western district of Wisconsin, who remarked on what he learned at each stage of his career, which included six years as Clark County sheriff. He advised the graduates to maintain high standards of integrity.
“You have all the control over your integrity, but if you ever lose it, it’s very difficult to get back,” Neville said. He added that they should remember that as patrol officers, they will represent not just the departments they work for, but all of law enforcement.