The Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) is launching a new initiative that will allow basic training recruits to earn an associate’s degree at no charge, helping boost recruitment for law enforcement agencies across the state.
The program, called Educating Heroes, lets recruits in the Law Enforcement Basic Training Academy simultaneously earn their degree as they complete their peace officer certification. It’s the result of a new partnership between DOCJT and Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC).
Close to 300 recruits go through the academy every year on their way to becoming law enforcement officers.
“DOCJT is not only a leader in training, but also professionalism, and this program demonstrates the department’s unwavering commitment to serving those who serve us,” said Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley. “Educating Heroes will provide lifelong benefits for recruits and a powerful incentive to help law enforcement agencies attract new talent in our competitive economy. I’m immensely proud of Commissioner Alex Payne, DOCJT and BCTC for this innovative collaboration.”
Beginning Sept. 22, recruits in Basic Training Class No. 508 will earn 45 credit hours from BCTC for completing DOCJT’s 20-week academy. BCTC is offering all recruits the opportunity to earn an additional 15 credit hours during the academy via online courses, which will help them complete the full 60 credit hours required to earn an Applied Science associate’s degree.
“We are pleased to partner with Department of Criminal Justice Training to offer this educational opportunity to those who serve our communities across the state,” said Dr. Koffi Akakpo, president of Bluegrass Community and College.
This initiative is expected to invigorate recruitment and retention of law enforcement across the Commonwealth during a time in which both have been a challenge. Students will receive the necessary resources to successfully complete the program, including tutoring, study guides and group-study opportunities.
“We believe this will greatly affect these young people’s lives,” DOCJT Commissioner Alex Payne said. “We believe people will look at a career in law enforcement and see what it can do for them.”
Courses will include skills such as critical thinking, improved communication through diverse situations and in-depth studies ranging from accounting to ethics.
After completion of the associate degree program, all officers will have the opportunity to further their education with bachelor’s and master’s degree credit from yearly in-service training.
“We will be sending back better educated young men and women to the communities they come from,” Payne added. “We see a bright future for this program.”