Police Academy to open at HCC

January 19, 2013|By DAN DEARTH |
  • John King, a 30-year-veteran of law enforcement, will be the instructor for the new Police Academy at Hagerstown Community College.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Hagerstown Community College and local law enforcement officials have been talking about starting a police academy on the HCC campus for four years.

Those talks will come to fruition March 18, when the first class is scheduled to begin.

John King, a 30-year-veteran of law enforcement who has served with police departments in Baltimore City and Montgomery County, and most recently as chief of the Gaithersburg Police Department, has been tapped as the instructor for the six-month course.

“It’s exciting,” King said. “It really wet my appetite for trying to start something new.”

King said the entry-level classes will be limited to 20 students, who can enroll on their own or be sponsored by a majority of the police agencies in Maryland.

Maryland State Police has its own training academy.

He said everyone who applies for admittance to the HCC course must pass a standard college placement test, a background check and a physical fitness test.

Classes will be held in a wing of the Learning Resource Center after the space is modified to suit the academy’s needs, King said. The physical training element, which will include push-ups, sit-ups and a 1 1/2 mile run, will take place at the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

Firearms training will be conducted at the Hagerstown Police Department’s range near Smithsburg.

King said that in addition to firearms training, cadets will complete coursework in criminal investigation, traffic law, self-defense, interpersonal communication and technical writing.

Students must be 21 when they graduate, meaning the have to be at least 20 years, 6 months old when they start the course, King said. There is no maximum age limit, he said, and the course is open to males and females.

David Warner, HCC’s vice president of academic affairs, said officials are in the process of working out the cost of the course. He said local police organizations, such as the Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, will pay the tuition for the students they sponsor. Private students, he said, will have to pay their own tuition.

He stressed that students will earn a certificate rather than a college degree by completing the course. Students will, however, be able to apply some of the coursework toward a degree if they choose to further their studies.

“This will be a police training academy for college credit,” Warner said.

King said the academy’s first class has about 17 interested candidates, primarily from the Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and other law-enforcement agencies in Western Maryland.

The academy at HCC will take the place of the former Western Maryland Police Academy, said Hagerstown Police Capt. Mark Holtzman, whose appointment as Hagerstown police chief will become effective Jan. 22.

Holtzman said the city ceased operating the Western Maryland Police Academy in 2008 and since then, has been sending its cadets to academies in neighboring Frederick County and other training facilities in Maryland.

“It’s going to reduce our costs — lodging, transportation and meals,” Holtzman said. “All that’s going to go away. All we’ll have to pay is tuition ... It’s going to add a resource for police candidates we haven’t had for years.”

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said he and HCC officials traveled to the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commission in Sykesville to lobby for the academy’s approval.

Mullendore said the sheriff’s office also would save money by sending its cadets to the HCC academy.

“It’s very beneficial to us,” he said. “All the other academies are to the east. It was costly to send people for a six-month period.”

Mullendore said the sheriff’s office would provide some of its personnel to help teach the course. The sheriff’s office also plans to lend some of its equipment, such as leather belts and plastic guns, to help the students get used to wearing the gear they’ll need on the job.

“We’re really committed to helping HCC get the academy up and running,” Mullendore said.

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