The inaugural class of DeKalb Technical College’s Law Enforcement Academy was recently honored at The Oaks Golf Course.
Former DeKalb graduate Karen Presley honored her alma mater and the 11 inaugural academy students by providing them with lunch at The Oaks. Presley is the catering director of The Oaks and her son, William Presley, is one of the 11 academy students, so the celebration was a natural fit for Karen.
"When I was at DeKalb Tech, the instructors and administrators were always pushing for me to do better," Karen said. "I have a special fondness for the school, and I’m just giving back."
The 17-week course at the Newton Center Law Enforcement Academy is designed to be a more intense version of 10-week programs offered at most facilities like the Clayton Regional Academy. Program Director Beverly Thomas said her students received extra weeks of training in areas like the use of firearms, defensive tactics and emergency driving. They were also certified in the use of Tasers and practiced giving field sobriety tests.
The students also took field trips to the state capital to watch court trials, so that they could better understand the entire law enforcement process.
In addition to the training, the students also received college credit for the course, allowing them to work toward an associate degree in criminal justice. Student Nicole Harris said the course was "very intense" and was worth the extra time and effort. Student Sean O’Brien said the college credit was definitely helpful and he plans on finishing his degree.
Thomas said the program also helps place students with local law enforcement agencies. Five of the 11 students are in the process of being hired by local agencies and the other six students are still searching. Student Samantha Rose is in the process of being hired by the Conyers Police Department.
"I’ve always wanted to be a police officer, because I’ve felt that call to help," Rose said. "I’m looking at Conyers because their police department has very high standards and that’s what I’m looking for."
Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown said his department supports the program, because it saves law enforcement agencies the time and money usually required to train new staff.
Thomas said the plan for the future is for the Newton academy to be the initial learning center for future police officers. The current 10-week institutions would then provide advanced training to build on the 17-week course.
The students will officially graduate on April 30.