Training program to let commonfolk become cops

Breanne George

Outreach program manager Marilyn Bokrass, Jim Owens, justice studies professor, and Dr. Mark Colvin, chair of justice studies, discuss plans for the new police academy. The academy will reside in Bowman 124. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Kent State students have the right to police certification.

Kent State’s Law Enforcement, Corrections and Community Education Center, a basic police training academy, will make its debut on campus for people in need of police certification. Although training does not begin until Fall 2007, interested students are encouraged to stop by the academy’s office in Room 124 Bowman Hall when it opens in the coming weeks.

According to Ohio state law, in order to be a police officer with state or local authority, a person must complete 640 hours of basic training.

The creator of the academy, justice studies professor James Owens, is a recently retired federal agent who spent 26 years in law enforcement. He began his career as a police officer for the Kent Police Department. After three years, his plans for the police academy have finally become reality.

“The academy will have just about anything and everything a person needs to know as a law enforcement officer on the streets,” he said. “It’s an intensive process with a lot of record-keeping, inspections and standards that have to be made.”

The training program will cover arrest techniques, firearms training, state and criminal law, defensive tactics, defensive driving, first aid and handling domestic violence disputes, Owens said.

The academy will offer a full-time session eight hours per day Monday through Friday for 16 weeks. For those attending school or working during the day, a part-time session will begin at the same time, offered for four hours in the evening for 32 weeks.

The program will cost $3,300, which is competitive with area training academies located at the University of Akron, Youngstown State and Stark State.

Justice studies majors are eligible to receive internship credit for the training. Owens said students have the option to receive six or 12 credits for the internship, giving them the ability to have two internships if they choose.

The academy is not just for Kent State justice studies majors, but any person who needs certification. Even if a student receives a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, without certification, he or she can not become a police officer with local or state authorities. In comparison, a high school graduate with certification has the ability to become a police officer.

“You can complete the certification with or without a degree, but having both definitely puts you in competition for jobs,” Owens said. “Kent State students are going to be an arm and a leg up in the hiring process. Everything else being equal, a certified person will get the job.”

Owens plans to hire around 75 local police officers as instructors for the academy, including members of the Kent Police Department.

Kent police chief James Peach, John Peach, director of safety for the Kent State Police Department, and Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley have agreed to serve on the academy’s board of advisers, Owens said.

Kent State Police had a training academy in the 1980s, but Owens said a movement to consolidate into regional training centers caused it to close.

“Youngstown State and University of Akron students have the option to receive police officer certification as part of their degree program,” he said. “Kent students haven’t had that option.”

Owens conducted 700 surveys and learned that 70 percent of justice studies majors would consider registering for certification training.

“I anticipate no problem filling the academy’s spots,” Owens said.

Sophomore justice studies major Adam Burkhart thinks the academy is necessary at Kent State because criminal justice is such a popular area of study.

“It’s a good idea because students are planning to take the training anyway,” Burkhart said. “Instead of having to go somewhere else to get certified, it’s just easier to get the training on campus.”

Contact features reporter Breanne George at [email protected].