NEWARK — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost visited Central Ohio Technical College on Tuesday to showcase the college’s basic peace officer training program along with his STAR Academy award.
COTC’s Basic Peace Officer Training Academy won the award by going above and beyond basic training standards and conducting a rigorous review of its policies and procedures by the COTC’s Basic Training Academy. Peace of Ohio.
Yost created the STAR Academy award last fall. COTC is the fifth recipient to date.
“Some of the academies are okay, but not great,” Yost said. “I thought it was time to talk about improving police training. We announced a competition to obtain STAR certification. certification as a STAR Academy.”
The Attorney General told the students he was proud of their efforts, especially in turbulent times for the police.
“This may be the most difficult time to be a law enforcement officer of my life,” Yost said. “We’ve had unrest, demonization of the police and even questioning the validity of having police officers. It’s a difficult environment.”
Yost said the government was created to ensure public safety.
“You are the reason we have a government. It’s one of the best things you can do to serve others. I’m proud of you and grateful to you. What you do matters.”
Jeff Sowards, commandant of the COTC Basic Peace Officer Training Academy, said there were 50 in the program this year, up from about 35 normally.
The reason for the increase, Sowards said, is that students responded to the challenge not just to complain, but to intervene to make things better.
“We said ‘be the agent of change’ and some of them took it to heart,” Sowards said.
The STAR Academy has an 85% pass rate, but Sowards said the COTC academy has had a 100% pass rate since 2014 when he started in the position.
Sowards, who retired from the Columbus Police Department in 2013, said his core message to students was simple.
“Contact with a police officer is perhaps the only contact a citizen has in their lifetime,” Sowards said. “Treat this person like your mom, dad, or family member. Don’t treat them like a jerk.”
In 1993, Sowards said he was at the scene of 14 deaths, by suicide, murder, car accident. Aid to current officers is much more comprehensive than it was when he was a DPC officer, he said.
“You can’t put a lot in your head,” Sowards said. “These things weigh on you year after year. Now there’s a great support system there. It’s so much better than 20 years ago. Back then it was ‘swallow it’.”
Determining whether a student will make a good officer comes down to answering two questions, Sowards said.
“Would I want this person as a partner and do I want to supervise this person? Sowards said. “If I do, they’re going to be a good recruit.”
The COTC Basic Peace Officer Training Academy offers two scheduling options for students.
The accelerated day program can be completed in one 15-week semester. Classes are held from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday with some weekend and/or evening classes as needed
The evening program can be completed in two semesters, which is approximately nine months. Classes are offered from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some weekend work as needed.
Orientation dates for the Summer Academy, which begins in May, are: 1 p.m. March 30 and 3 p.m. April 7.
For more information or to register, go to: https://www.cotc.edu/program-information-meetings