SALEMBURG — The North Carolina Justice Academy celebrated 40 years Tuesday, with pomp and circumstance, as speakers, including state Attorney General Roy Cooper and others pivotal in the development of the academy, lauded the agency for its impact.
The eastern campus in Salemburg hosted the event with Cooper and former retired directors Dr. Martie Stanford and Peggy Shaefer on hand for the event which saw some 300 people in attendance.
Cooper reflected on events from 40 years ago, mentioning everything from Watergate to his entering the tenth grade.
“Forty years ago the Justice Academy was born,” began Cooper, mentioning that the Consumer Protection division was also formed at the same time as well.
“I want to thank all that have worked at the Justice Academy here and at Edneyville as well,” Cooper added. He said that he gets input into the courses offered and that the academy responds by providing the training that is needed for this state. School safety and rapid deployment were two of the courses that Cooper mentioned as having a recent impact in regards to a potential school shooting.
“I am so proud of the law enforcement officers here,” Cooper stressed, applauding, too, the programs and training offered. School resource officer training, domestic violence training, gang investigations, and meth lab awareness are all offered through the academy and are having a significant impact on communities, he said.
Cooper also stressed that the academy is aware of impacts of crimes on victims, such as in the cases of sex trafficking and other sexual offenses.
“You have all raised the quality and effectiveness of those keeping us safe,” Cooper detailed. “I am proud of you…those that risk their lives to keep us safe.”
Current NCJA director Mark Strickland said that during former director Martie Stanford’s tenure in the early years of the academy is when it was just beginning to start taking shape. During those early years is when the NC Justice Academy became a national leader in law enforcement training.
Stanford praised the efforts of the academy, saying that they have been working on creative ideas as well as the development of the staff, which she described as rapidly changing. The increase in staff and buildings has transformed the academy, making it stronger, she added.
“Staff is an important part of the process,” said Stanford. “The work of excellent people has helped meet our mission of serving.”
Former director Peggy Shaefer also made renovations that have played a pivotal role for the law enforcement education center, said Strickland. Renovations like the gym and resurfacing the driving track also have brought new life to the eastern location. Shaefer helped get a a 12 lane firing range in place at the western Edneyville location, as well.
“Real, practical exercises are what sets the NC Justice Academy apart,” Shaefer expressed. Role playing has worked to provide law enforcement with better training which, she said, the entire staff participates in, from the administrative assistants to the custodial staff.
“We have trained over 400,000 law enforcement personnel,” said Strickland in closing. “I am really excited about what our next 40 years will bring.”
After the program, a cake was cut commemorating the 40 years. Firing range demonstrations and driving track observations were planned for after the cake-cutting reception. The campus was also open for tours and agencies had displays for visitors as well.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.