Law enforcement job market ripe for police academy applicants

Next Sulphur Springs class begins Jan. 28

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan 8, 2008 - Anyone who has an interested law enforcement as a career is encouraged to get their registration packets in for for the upcoming East Texas Police Academy Basic Peace Officer Training and Certification course, which begins Jan. 28.

After all, as Andy Chester, the lead instructor for the Sulphur Springs-based night course, says, "It takes a while to get the psych exam."

While the nation's unemployment rate is on the rise, it's a good time to enter the field of law enforcement because of the availability of positions.

�There�s an enormous market right now for police officers, and there are a lot of openings throughout the state,� said Chester, who is also chief investigator at Hopkins County Sheriff�s Office. �We [HCSO] are accepting applications now, and could have as many as three to four openings soon. Just about everywhere in Texas right now has openings.�

He added that ETPA’s last night class is often prime hunting ground for agencies looking to recruit additional officers. Recruiters from as far away as Pflugerville and Lexington visited the last night class, which concluded during the holiday season, looking for applicants to fill positions with their agencies, Chester noted.

�We have good reports on officers that turn out from our school,� Chester said. "For those interested in the law enforcement field, now is the time to get in. There are many openings and opportunities."

Those who have already picked up packets but have yet to turn them in are reminded that the deadline is closing in, and completing the application process is involved.

�In addition to the aforementioned psychological exam and paperwork, applicants must have a complete a physical examination and drug screening. Applicants are responsible for the cost of all exams and expenses associated with the application and class. They also have to turn insponsorship and eligibility forms.

Those enrolling in the 640-hour police academy must have either a high school diploma or a GED and 12 hours college credit. Applicants must also provide proof of education, and must have a relatively clean criminal history. Essentially, they should not have been convicted of any criminal offense above a Class B misdemeanor in the past 10 years, or ever convicted of any family violence offense.

On at least three occasions, the academy will require participants to attend weekend sessions: one weekend for a 32-hour driving course at the main academy campus; one weekend for a 40-hour day and night weapons training at the firing range; and at least one Saturday morning designated for training in OC spraying.

The class begins Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. in one of the classrooms at Northeast Texas Fire/EMS Training Academy, located at 1334 Sharon Lane.

Application packets for the basic peace officer class may be obtained by calling ETPA, 903-983-8663; at the main school, Woodruff Adult Education Center, 220 North Henderson Blvd. in Kilgore; or from ETPA's web site, http://kcfac.kilgore.cc.tx.us/etpa/

For more information, contact East Texas Police Academy in Kilgore at 903-983-8663 or Chester at the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, 903-438-4050.

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