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May 13, 2024

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

The Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) honored two graduates of Macomb Community College Police Academy as the first Robert Figurski Award recipients. 

Cadets Alex Roberts and Luxie Kouza each received the $500 awards named in honor of POLC/GELC Labor Representative Robert Figurski, who served as the Unions’ Director from May 2016 until June 2023. Roberts and Kouza, both 23-year-olds, were awarded during their Dec. 18, 2023 graduation in a class of 24 police cadets.

The Robert Figurski Award, sponsored by the POLC, is awarded twice annually at the discretion of the police academy to graduating cadets. To qualify, cadets must pass the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement (MCOLES) certification test and meet MCOLES employment standards for certified Michigan Law Enforcement Officers.


Photos courtesy of Macomb Police Academy
Alex Roberts

Alex Roberts wasn’t entirely sure about his career while attending college, so after graduating with a business degree he went to work for the local Parks and Recreation department while weighing his options.

In January 2023, he entered the Shelby Township Police Cadet program and that solidified his career choice — law enforcement.

“Right out of college, I worked for Shelby Township Parks and Rec. for six months, then I went right into the cadet program,” Roberts said. “Basically, that’s how Shelby Township sends their cadets to the police academy to become police officers. Instead of waiting to be sent by them, I just enrolled myself in the police academy and sent myself.”

Roberts made the right career choice as far as Macomb Police Academy Director Michael Ciaramitaro is concerned, which is why he was selected for the Robert Figurski Award. “Cadet Roberts is hardworking and dedicated to becoming a professional law enforcement officer,” said Ciaramitaro.

“I could not be more grateful for receiving the Figurski Award. It means a lot to me,” Roberts said. “I sent myself (to the academy), so I had to pay for it, and not having an income while doing the police academy for 18 weeks is difficult.”

Roberts graduated from the academy with a 3.16 GPA. He began his career as a Sterling Heights Police Officer on Jan. 8, 2024, following the lead of his father, retired Utica Patrol Officer Michael Roberts, who served his department for 25 years. “My dad was a police officer so, initially it was always part of the plan, but I was never dead set on being a police officer,” Roberts said of his decision to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Cleary University in 2022.

However, he just kept returning to the idea that he should become a police officer. “It’s something I always thought I would go into. It pretty much found me,” he said. “It’s a respectable and noble profession and you also have a career with a pension where you can provide for yourself.”

His experiences at Macomb Police Academy and in the Shelby Township Police Cadet program cemented his decision.

“I can’t thank the people at Macomb Police Academy — all my instructors or anyone who has helped me along the way — enough because that’s why I’m still here,” he said.


Luxie Kouza

Luxie Kouza was influenced by law enforcement in her formative years.  

“At a very young age, I always looked up to law enforcement,” she said. “The first law enforcement contact I had was at a (career day) when the officer who came approached me and gave me a sticker. Ever since then I always have looked at law enforcement as role models. He inspired me to become one. Right after I graduated from Sterling Heights High School, I immediately started my career path." 

Kouza was hired as a Somerset Mall Security Guard. “I remember working security when I was 19,” she said. “I was in college and I started working for Somerset Mall and working with the Troy Police Officers and they really humbled me. I was talking to police officers and hearing their experiences on the job and they seemed to really enjoy it.”

She graduated with a 3.03 GPA in the academy and earned her Associate of Applied Science in Law Enforcement at Macomb Community College. The day after academy graduation, Dec. 19, 2023, she was sworn in as a Birmingham Police Officer.

“Cadet Kouza consistently strives to do her best. She has shown great improvement since the beginning of the Police Academy and will be an outstanding law enforcement professional,” Director Ciaramitaro said.

“I was actually very excited when the Director had mentioned I was receiving the (Figurski) Award,” Kouza said. “It’s truly an honor to receive this award, especially with how hard I worked every day.”

While running in the academy was intense, she said, “The most challenging part for me about the academy was I wasn’t necessary the best test taker. Every week we’d have a 100 question test and the Director would send us material to prepare. I would go through every single test and module.”

Despite the preparation, she was struggling to do well until the instructor offered to allow students who needed it some extra time to take their tests. “It really is helpful. Ever since then, I saw my test scores improve,” Kouza said.

Her advice for enrolling police cadets is to set their minds to perseverance and prepare in advance through endurance training.

“Don’t give up — always push yourself and believe in yourself no matter how hard the running is and the test taking is,” she said. “It was pretty rough in the beginning. I knew prior to the academy I would be running a lot and, had I prepared myself a little more, it would’ve been easier. The Lieutenant of our program, Troy Police Lt. Frank Shuler, said, ‘the struggle will make you better.’”

“Toward the end it really paid off,” Kouza said. “If you stay true to yourself, you can do anything you want.” 

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