Clad in the black uniforms of their office, 25 Lucas County corrections officers filed into an Owens Community College classroom Monday morning and stood at their assigned places, awaiting a command to salute county Sheriff John Tharp and take their seats.
And with that, they commenced the seven-month Ohio Peace Officer Training program, which will allow them to become certified peace officers and pursue advanced careers in the criminal justice system.
This particular trainee class is unusual. When Lucas County needs sheriff's deputies, the county commissioners and sheriff’s office pay the course’s $5,000 tuition fee.
But with no such need at the moment, this group of 22 men and three women is, for the first time, paying its own tuition.
Lieutenant Ron Frederick and other northwest Ohio law enforcement officers as well as Lucas County Sheriff's Office staff will teach trainees basic skills for law enforcement: firearms use, the Ohio Revised Code, search and seizure, laws of arrest, and others, according to Sheriff Tharp and Lieutenant Gary Condon, head of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office Training Section. Class sessions are four hours a day, five days a week.
Lucas County commissioners Carol Contrada, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and Pete Gerken attended the first day of training at Owens’ Center for Emergency Preparedness in Perrysburg Township to show their support for the officers.
“We are so impressed with your dedication to your jobs, careers, and futures,” Ms. Contrada told the class. “The kind of sacrifice you’re making is really impressive.”
Program graduates take the Ohio Police Certification Test and an agility test to become Ohio peace officers. Sheriff Tharp estimates there are now several thousand peace officers in Lucas County and at least 500 in Toledo.
Such officers pursue careers in police departments, road patrol, detective bureaus, juvenile and common pleas courts, drug task forces, and the Sheriff’s Office.
For Jeremy Bick, 37, of Toledo the start of class represents the opportunity to fulfill a longtime career goal.
“I’ve wanted to do this since some point in high school,” he said. “This class is the next step in my career path.”
Although Mr. Bick does not yet know what specific career he will pursue after his training, he believes the program will broaden his understanding of the criminal justice system.
“The opportunities to advance outside the jail double after this,” Lieutenant Condon said. “Career enhancement is definitely the benefit of doing this.”
Sheriff Tharp sees a personal benefit to the training as well.
“They will be stronger men and women after this,” he said. “The pride they will have afterward is just awesome.”
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