Thursday, September 19, 2002

Enrollment in police, medic programs rising

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio - Many community colleges are seeing a surge of enrollment in police and medic programs following last year's terrorist attacks and rescue efforts in New York and Washington.

        “The enrollment's way up. It's the best it's been in 10 years,” said Gary Tucker, chairman of the criminal-justice department at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. “The demand has been very, very intense.”

        Mr. Tucker said there are usually about 150 students in the law enforcement program. This fall there are 184.

        “It's patriotism,” Mr. Tucker said. “You see the events on September 11th when all those firemen and police ran into the jaws of death. They're kind of heroes. They're looked upon as role models. A lot of people think they're doing some very valuable things for society, and they want to join those ranks.”

        The increased demand has forced the college to increase the number of police academies it offers from four to six. At the academies, students get hands-on training for police work.

        Mr. Tucker believes there will be plenty of jobs for law-enforcement graduates besides police work. For example, he expects an increase in jobs in the transportation security industry.

        Norma Kent, spokeswoman for the American Association of Community Colleges, said community colleges from around the country reported increased demand for the programs after Sept. 11. The association represents about 1,200 of the nation's two-year colleges.

        Ms. Kent said about 80 percent of police officers or firefighters are educated at community colleges.

        At Olympic College in Bremerton, Wash., 40 students are in the emergency services program, about double the number before the terrorist attacks.

        “The firefighters got in because of 9-11. They saw the camaraderie and true spirit of firefighters,” said Larry Rogers, professor of fire service programs. “The firemen are their heroes.”

        Mr. Rogers said the school has added more courses on terrorism and beefed up courses on hazardous materials.

        “They are better prepared and better motivated now,” Mr. Rogers said of his students.

        “I think they are much more prepared than they were 10 years ago.”

        Southern State Community College in Hillsboro, Ohio, has 30 law enforcement students, up seven from last fall, and the school is expecting to double the number of students in its medic program, which was 16 last fall.

        Bruce Fugate, EMS program coordinator, attributes at least part of the increased interest to the terrorist attacks.

        “I started getting calls shortly after that,” he said.


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