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Inaugural class of HCC Police Academy has begun

April 07, 2013|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Kristin Craft, left, of Hedgesville, W.Va., and other HCC Police Academy recruits line up at attention as they under go an inspection by John King, academy director, Tuesday morning.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

In his former job as a probation officer, Daniel Monn helped parolees rejoin society.

Now, the 28-year-old is training at the Hagerstown Community College Police Academy to take criminals off the streets.

“The role has kind of switched, and now you’re opening the door to the criminal justice system,” he said.

Monn and 19 other recruits became part of the academy’s inaugural class when courses started March 18. If Monn successfully completes the six-month program, he will be sworn in as a Hagerstown police officer.

“It’s a great course,” Monn said. “It’s great they got it set up in the local area.”

John King, the academy’s chief instructor, has three decades of law enforcement experience with Maryland police departments in Baltimore, Gaithersburg and Montgomery County.

“It’s a good group so far,” he said. “I like them. They are very positive.”

King said if they graduate, a majority of the recruits will get jobs at law enforcement agencies in Western Maryland. He said nine of the recruits are being sponsored by the Hagerstown Police Department, two by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and three by the Garrett County Sheriff’s Office. Six of the recruits are self-sponsored.

Among other things, the first week of classes involved physical fitness, team-building exercises and drill instruction. The second week covered constitutional law and criminal justice. The recruits will learn self-defense tactics and how to write police reports, among a variety of other skills.

HCC officials have talked about opening a police academy on campus for the past four years. Several months ago, they started clearing space at the Learning Resources Center for such classes. The academy will use the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center for the physical part of the course, which includes a fitness test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a 1 1/2-mile run.

King said firearms training will be conducted at the Hagerstown Police Department’s range near Smithsburg. Classes are held five days a week and will wrap up Sept. 13.

Kristin Craft, 24, is one of two women in the class. She is being sponsored by the Hagerstown Police Department.

A former loadmaster in the U.S. Air Force, Craft said she is 14 credits shy of earning her bachelor’s degree in forensics.

“It’s always been something I thought I’d do,” Craft said of studying to become a police officer. “It’s a chance to help my community be a better place.”

Craft said the course is a bit more challenging than she expected. She said the physical training was demanding because she let herself get out of shape after leaving the Air Force.

“There’s a lot more academics than I expected,” she said. “It will be a long six months, but I think it will be worth it.”

Craft said some of her military training has come in handy, particularly her knowledge of drill and discipline.

“The mental mind-set has been a huge help,” she said. “So far, I’ve been setting goals. I want to get through the first week, then the second week, then the month. Six months seems less intimidating when you look at it week by week.”

King said the cost of the course is $5,400 for Washington County students, $7,100 for Maryland residents who live outside the county and $8,400 for out-of-state students.

People who apply for the course have to pass a standard college placement test, a background check and a physical fitness test, King said. Students must be 21 when they graduate, meaning they have to be at least 20 years, 6 months old when they start the course.

Upon graduation, students will be certified to work at any police department in Maryland, with the exception of Maryland State Police, which has its own training academy.

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