GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As police officers throughout the country face greater scrutiny for their actions, community colleges throughout eastern North Carolina are seeing steady and, in some cases, higher enrollment.
Pitt Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) law enforcement coordinator Doug Bennett said the school’s last two classes saw more students than average.
He believes the current economic climate and the low-cost of BLET courses are encouraging more people to become a police officer.
“You can move from basically unemployment to a lower paying job to a higher paying job with more ability to affect the community,” Bennett said.
Washington Police Chief Stacy Drakeford said it hasn’t affected his search for officers, but he said it has impacted larger departments throughout the country.
“The candidates [are] getting smaller,” Chief Drakeford said. “I think that it’s not just scrutiny. It’s actually the actual training that these officers have to go through.”
He said with BLET programs focusing on community policing and not just locking up people, candidates who are drawn to the job, just so they can carry a gun and badge, are dropping out.
“Then you have a smaller pool to pull from which understand that this is a profession and a lifestyle,” Chief Drakeford said.
Bennett said PCC instructors discuss with students about recent police-involved incidents and how to learn from them.
“We’re focused a lot here on practicing real-time with real types of equipment, real types of scenarios,” Bennett said.