Officers recruit for 20-person police academy

"It has been one of the best-kept law enforcement secrets in the state but we're going to change that," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Second Lieutenant Ben Crockett who serves as deputy director of the Oklahoma Police Corps, a training academy for police officers.

"We offer up to $30,000 in college expense reimbursement with a 20-week first-rate police training academy. It is a phenomenal opportunity for anyone interested in a career in law enforcement," said Crockett.

The OPC is a police training academy administered by the Department of Public Safety and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Police Corps. Its purpose is to address violent crime by helping Oklahoma law enforcement agencies increase the number of officers with advanced education and training assigned to community patrol.

"Many Oklahomans are facing difficult times with the job market on the decline. If you possess a college degree and have always wanted to be a police officer, this is a great opportunity. While you attend the academy, along with room and board you will receive $400 a week stipend pay. That's a deal you just can't beat, along with the best in education and excellent training." said Crockett. "Or we offer a college scholarship and/or reimbursement up to $30,000 for those who have 80 accredited college hours and qualify for the program."

Crockett said they welcome all qualified applicants but particularly recruit college graduates or those graduating the current year.

"Oklahoma law allows us to accept applicants up to the age of 46, but we are targeting recent college graduates because it is beneficial to them to receive the scholarship," said Crockett. "We are looking for Oklahoma's best and most qualified people."

J.L. Collar graduated from the second OPC academy last November.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done but it was worth every minute, worth every push up," said Collar whose best friend went through the first academy the prior year. "I listened to his whole experience and decided that's what I wanted to do. All the training, the firearms and defensive tactics, plus the $30,000 was a big factor in it.

Collar is the first member in his family to become a law enforcement officer.

"My Mom and my sister were worried about it at first," said Collar. "But now I've been an officer for about six months while working out a four-year contract with El Reno Police Department. The police corps is a great program with great instructors and everybody I came in contact with was very professional."

Collar says he's recruited a couple of people who are undergoing the application process. "I recommend the program to everybody, that's for sure," said Collar.

Most police academies teach just over 300 hours.

"Our cadets will participate in over 1,000 hours of instruction including physical conditioning, academics, community policing, indoctrination of police history and its tradition and most importantly leadership development. We are proud of this program," said Crockett. "It instills honor, courage, commitment, sense of duty, trust and loyalty in our cadets."

The third OPC academy will begin July 6 and end November 22. Oklahoma has been granted a 20-person academy this year. The academy is accredited with the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. If you are interested in applying, you can download an application form off the DPS website at www.dps.state.ok.us or call toll-free 1-877-898-2212.