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University Opens Doors to New Police Training Program

Police Corps Cadets
--Photo by Harriet Brewster/CJC

Director James Heironimus introduces the first group of Texas Police Corps cadets to guests during an orientation session held in the Criminal Justice Center Courtroom.

The first of an elite corps of police cadets has arrived on the campus of Sam Houston State University to begin an intensive training program which is being funded by the U. S. Department of Justice.

The Texas Police Corps is a $500,000 federally funded, law enforcement assistance program operated by the SHSU Criminal Justice Center, and the first cadets will be in training July 5-Nov. 19. The program is designed to address violent crime by increasing the number of officers with advanced education and training who serve on community patrol.

Texas is one of 23 states receiving funding by the Justice Department for the police training program. Cadets are eligible to receive up to $15,000 reimbursement for college related education expenses, as well as a $400 a week stipend while they are in residential training. Participants who successfully complete the program are guaranteed employment with a participating Texas law enforcement agency.

In return, students are obligated to graduate from an accredited four-year college or university, complete the police corps training, meet all requirements for law enforcement certification, and must serve four years assigned to community patrol with an approved agency.

Sam Houston State became involved with the federal program approximately 18 months ago.

"Given Sam Houston State University's reputation for leadership and for taking a proactive approach to criminal justice education, this was the logical choice for the placement of a program of this stature," said Richard Ward, dean of the university's College of Criminal Justice and director of the Criminal Justice Center.

"The Texas Police Corps will not only enhance the standing of our current programs, it will ultimately benefit the agencies involved and the entire state of Texas," Ward said.

In addition to compensating students through scholarships, the program reduces the local costs to law enforcement agencies by handling the responsibilities of recruiting, hiring and training the cadets.

At Sam Houston State, the training consists of 20 weeks of rigorous and highly specialized training in the areas of ethics, leadership, legal issues, skills, problem solving, wellness, community service, communications and physical fitness.

The training is not for the faint-of-heart, according to Texas Police Corps Director James Heironimus.

"The selection process itself is very intensive," said Heironimus, a 35-year veteran of law enforcement who began his career in 1966 as a police dispatcher and has worked in various capacities for local, state and federal agencies. A former chief of police, he also serves on the advisory council to the executive director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and is the discipline chair of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education committee for ethics, professional policing and multi-culturalism.

"Each applicant undergoes a thorough basic background investigation, successfully completes a physical ability/fitness assessment, a medical examination, an oral interview, and a review by a selection board," said Heironimus.

"Upon recommendations from the board and a final review by the director, we will conduct an in-field background investigation," he said. "If everything says 'yes,' we will make a recommendation to Washington and get authorization from the Justice Department to enroll the applicant."

The cadets live in the University Hotel adjoining the SHSU Criminal Justice Center during the 20 weeks they are in residential training. A routine day begins at 6 a.m. and concludes around 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Heironimus explained that unlike typical training, the Texas Police Corps will be spending a great deal of time on communication skills.

"In many cases, police officers can diffuse a bad situation simply with appropriate communication," he said. "Unfortunately, officers often don't receive the training they need to give them the skill and confidence to do that."

Cadets will be taped during scenario training. Their strengths and weaknesses will be evaluated and there will be self, peer and instructor assessment.
"This allows for instant feedback to correct possible problems and enhance their skill level," said Heironimus.

Training will be conducted by the full time staff instructors at the Texas Police Corps as well as select instructors from other agencies in the state, some of which are in partnership with the Police Corps program.
Eleven cadets are attending the first class---six women and five men.

Heironimus expects the program to produce officers who are physically, mentally, emotionally and morally prepared to face the challenges of law enforcement and public service.

"We are very selective of our candidates," he said. "We take the highest hiring standards of the state's police departments and raise the bar higher."

An additional component of the Police Corps program provides scholarships for dependent children of officers killed in the line of duty. Once a state is accepted into the Police Corps program, funds are available to provide an eligible student up to $15,000 to cover education expenses for study at any accredited institution of higher education. Dependent children incur no service or repayment obligation.


Media Contact: Julia May
July 6, 2004
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