The Sampson Community College Basic Law Enforcement Training program has been producing some of the finest law enforcement officers for more than three decades, and the tradition continues as the next class will begin Feb. 20.
According to Jennifer Wiley, director of the BLET program, the program has been around and a part of the community college’s curriculum for quite some time. Records indicate the program dates back to September 1985, when the Department of Community Colleges issued approval to Sampson Technical College (SCC’s former name) to offer BLET.
This program, Wiley said, allows participants to earn a certificate under the curriculum program.
“The Basic Law Enforcement program has 36 blocks of commission mandated instruction and it is designed to prepare entry-level individuals with the cognitive and physical skills needed to become certified law enforcement officers in North Carolina,” Wiley said. “The blocks of instruction include firearms, driver training with time on the driving track, motor vehicle law, arrest, search and seizure, just to name a few.”
Throughout the year, Sampson’s BLET program offers multiple academies and both day and night options are available for students. The day academy takes place Monday-Thursday, with some Friday and Saturday classes, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Testing takes place prior to class and physical fitness training is done right after class at least three times per week.
The night academy, Wiley explained, is a part time program where students attend class Monday-Thursday, 6-10 p.m., with testing prior to class and physical fitness after class, also at least three times per week. Even with the night academy, there are some Fridays and Saturdays scheduled for certain blocks of instruction.
According to Wiley, having a solid program for the last 32 years has allowed SCC to acquire some of the best instructors from local law enforcement agencies, including the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department, the Clinton Police Department and the local Highway Patrol.
“Our instructors are what makes the academy successful and their efforts contribute to our students’ development of essential industry knowledge and skills,” Wiley said.
Wiley, along with others in the department, take pride in the academy’s recruiting policy.
“We schedule various agencies to visit with the academy before class, over lunch, or after class to discuss their agencies, openings and requirements with our students,” the director explained. “The students have enjoyed visits from various agencies, even some from outside of Sampson County.”
Sampson’s program has students who come from across the state, and upon graduation, have earned jobs at the local sheriff’s office and police department, the Pender County Sheriff’s Department, the Duplin County Sheriff’s Department, the Benson Police Department, Harnett County Sheriff’s Department, Garner Police Department, Warsaw Police Department and the RDU Airport Authority.
Each year in April, the local BLET academy hosts the Coffee with Law Enforcement event, where students have attended, collected information, met with local officers, and from there, decided to follow the law enforcement track and are now employed with neighboring departments.
The next class, a day academy, begins Feb. 20, with pre-orientation Feb. 12. BLET packets must be completed prior to the orientation and can be picked up from Sharon West. There are only 24 seats available in this academy.
Once students successfully complete the course work, Wiley said they are eligible to sit for the state exam. Upon successful completion of the BLET State Comprehensive Written Examination, the BLET trainee has one year from the date of the exam to be duly appointed and sworn in as a law enforcement officer in North Carolina.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.