HGTC’s Police Pre-Academy Training course helps understaffed agencies

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 7:52 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry-Georgetown Technical College has partnered with the Horry County Police Department and the Conway Police Department to offer Police Pre-Academy Training to newly hired officers.

This new process helps alleviate the stress of already understaffed police agencies.

“The idea is then their trained staff can concentrate on other training and we take care of the first four weeks of the academy,” said Dr. Dan Wysong, the assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the College of Public Service, Teacher Education and Technologies. “By us working with them, it allows them to put their training staff on other officers who are currently in the field.”

The PPAT is based on four college-level courses matching the first four weeks or blocks of the 12-week Basic Law Enforcement Training certification offered at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. In addition to satisfying the first four weeks, students receive college credit for each course that can be applied to the associate degree in Criminal Justice.

“There’s a lot of debate on whether or not the college-educated officer is a better fit for the public, and I’m one of those who believe in that,” said Wysong.

Horry County Deputy Chief Ken Davis, who helps to teach this course, has not only years of experience but also a Ph.D. in public safety.

“Studies have shown that officers that are more educated understand cultural diversity more and they’re more apt to engage actively with the community and they’re less likely to use excessive force,” said Davis.

Students learn a variety of aspects that come with the profession of being a police officer. From learning about constitutional law to participating in real-life scenarios through a simulation learning tool that helps them to think critically and gives them exposure to a situation that could save someone’s life.

For retired Myrtle Beach Police Capt. Kevin Heins, there’s now a greater emphasis on educating officers.

“Because it’s a liability for the officer,” said Heins. “It’s a liability for the agency. Just watch the news. What happens nationwide a lot of times is failure to train and that’s one thing that we can’t take for granted; failure to train.

The next course will begin on May 16 and tuition is free. For more information, call Professor Jeff Scott at (843) 349-7140.

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