Police academy cadets start training; applications for fall being accepted

Anna Duszkiewicz

Kenny Ray has always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

He took the first step yesterday.

Ray is one of the new cadets in this spring’s police academy, which began yesterday morning.

“My dad’s been an officer for 23 years,” Ray said.

The Kent State police academy was an active program in the 1970s and ’80s until it closed in 1987. It reopened last fall.

Jim Owens, program coordinator of the Law Enforcement Education Center, said the academy has had an excellent placement record so far.

“Since (the academy) started in the fall we’ve had 14 people get commissioned as police officers,” he said.

As with any new program, Owens said the academy had a few speed bumps starting out.

“We’re working our way through the bugs and we’ve got most of them worked out at this point,” he said.

Owens said the academy’s standards are high.

The state of Ohio requires 30 hours of physical training for the academy, but Owens said Kent State cadets must complete 60, which has led to a 100 percent passage rate in physical conditioning in the state assessments.

The state curriculum requires 582 hours for certification. Kent State’s academy requires 650.

“We provide a lot of extra training that a lot of other academies don’t provide, and we don’t charge extra for it,” Owens said.

Unlike other police academies, Owens said, Kent State’s police academy certifies its cadets in the use of a taser, pepper spray, the asp baton and a radar.

He said most police departments, including the Kent Police, use a taser, and being certified while still in the academy helps put cadets ahead.

“Our philosophy is to train a person to go out and get hired at a police department on day one without having to worry about attending these other classes as add-ons later,” he said.

Cadets in the program receive training, some of it hands-on, in a variety of areas such as traffic enforcement, defensive tactics, accident investigation, domestic violence, criminal law and many others.

Owens, who himself is a 1981 graduate of the academy, said various police departments periodically take cadets on “ride-alongs,” when officers let cadets ride along with them in their cruisers.

“We try to give them a flavor of what they will run into in actual police work, give them the opportunity to get their feet wet, so to speak, in criminal justice” he said.

The academy draws its instructors from the ranks of many different city, township, county and state law enforcement agencies, including the state highway patrol.

Monica Moll, one of the instructors, said the academy’s goal is getting the cadets to see the big picture.

“They need to see what the role of a police officer is,” she said. “It’s not all law enforcement-focused. That’s just one part of the job.”

Moll, a colonel sergeant in the Kent State University Police Department, said a lot of cadets have the misperception that they’re going to be going around enforcing the law every day.

She said order maintenance and service-oriented tasks are both a big part of police work.

“I want to give them a better understanding of what their job entails, how it fits into our system of government, where they get their authority,” Moll said. “I stress to them that they get it from the people.”

The academy plans to run three classes per academic year. It will run two full-time day academies &dmash; one in the fall and one in the spring — and a part-time night and weekend academy, which spans the whole year.

Applications for the fall’s academy are currently being accepted.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Anna Duszkiewicz at [email protected].