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Macomb Community College introduces new police academy with a schedule designed to accommodate working adults

– Tuesday, November 20, 2018 10:00AM

Extended-session academy expected to help address shortage of officers and help build community connections

Macomb Community College’s Public Service Institute is introducing a new police academy with evening and weekend classes so that those with work or family obligations during the day can pursue their dream of becoming a police officer. The 10-month program meets state requirements, covers the same curriculum as the standard 18-week session, provides students with the same number of training hours and develops the same skill sets. Macomb Community College’s new police academy is the only one to offer this type of schedule in Southeast Michigan.

The new, extended-session academy will start Monday, February 4, 2019, and will meet Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and every other Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“The standard Macomb police academy does a great job for those who are able to walk away from a job and spend 40 hours per week for 18 weeks of training,” said Chief Dale Dwojakowski, Sterling Heights Police Department and an instructor at the Macomb Public Service Institute. “But we’re probably ignoring a third of the population who might want to get involved in this profession but haven’t had the chance. So this academy will bring in a whole host of a new type of applicants. We’re very excited in Sterling Heights.”

Police departments across the country are experiencing a shortage of officers due to a variety of factors, including retirements. According to the State of Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the number of police and sheriff patrol officer positions in Michigan are expected to grow by 6.6 percent through 2026, with a projected 1,330 job openings every year.

“I’m down six people right now. I haven’t reached my budgeted strength for five years,” said Chief James Berlin, Roseville Police Department. “We just haven’t been able to attract enough qualified applicants to fill our ranks. I know most of the communities around us are in the same boat.” 

“With this new academy, you’ll have people who maybe want to make a career change. Maybe they always wanted to be a police officer but didn’t have the wherewithal when they were younger,” said Berlin. “This opens it up to more people with life skills. Right now, we’re getting officers who are right out of college. With this (new academy), we might get people who have been married for a few years, they’ve got a few kids, and they’ve experienced life’s trials and tribulations. I think we’ll get people with more robust experience.”

In addition to attracting a sufficient number of trained applicants, local police departments are also committed to staffing that reflects the communities they serve.

“For any city that is experiencing any demographic shift, I think it is important for their public safety department and really any and all facets of the government to mirror the community as much as possible,” said James Friedman, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Eastpointe, and instructor at Macomb’s Public Service Institute. “Certain communities have certain perspectives on things based on their experience. So if you have a department that mirrors that community there is a level of connection.”

The challenge departments have faced is having to hire new officers from a limited pool of applicants who aren’t necessarily reflective of the community. Offering an extended-session academy that meets outside of the traditional workday provides the opportunity for a wider segment of the community to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“You want to be a legitimate police department and hold your head up and say we’re doing the right things for the right reasons and that we represent all people,” said Dwojakowski.

Applications for the new academy are available now and are due Dec. 14. The tuition for the academy is $6,200, including a non-refundable $200 deposit. For more information, call 586.498.4060 or email policeacademy@macomb.edu.

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 38,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media contact:  Sean M. Patrick, 586.445.7271, patricks28@macomb.edu