These aren't just ordinary students at Augusta Tech -- they're training to become the future police officers of the area. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 15, 2011)
News 12 at 11o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Officers on both sides of the river are staying busy fighting crime on the streets, but some cadets are also busy getting ready to hit those streets.
In three days, some students will complete classes and be certified officers. While some state training centers are having to cancel classes, technical college police academies are picking up.
Sgt. Allan Rollins instructs his class, "You see the drugs that we have here and you see the drugs that we have on the board."
They are somewhat usual sights and sounds for a classroom.
Students pass around marijuana and ecstasy and come to class armed.
Matt Hammond is a student here and aims to be part of the police force.
"With the crime rate going up, the more officers we can get on the street the better off we're going to be," he said.
In just days, Hammond and his classmates at Augusta Tech's Peace Officers Training Academy will become state-certified officers.
He says, "What's next for me? I'm going to interview with Columbia County and local agencies and hope to get a job where I can."
Rollins is a narcotics investigator, but when he's not investigating the cases, he's instructing these cadets.
"There is always a shortage of officers," Rollins said.
In Tuesday's class, they're learning about spotting drugs, handling drugs and handling suspects.
"We bring in the real drugs, not just the demonstration board; we bring in the real methamphetamine, real marijuana. We give them the chance to see it, feel it, understand what the effects are," he said.
But as officers learn new formulas, so do the offenders.
"It's not one time you go to the academy and you never have to go back," he said. "Policing is a constant change and the policing that I did in 1980 is a lot different than the policing I do in 2011."
So these are the faces of the men and women who will be protecting you.
"Just being out there and being able to help the community is my dream," Hammond said.
A dream he and 24 others hope they are closer to achieving.
These graduations happen twice a year. This semester, the academy's class size doubled.
There is also another academy for officers, the CSRA Training Center put on by the state. It's the same type of training but these classes at Augusta Tech, which can be up to 14 hours long, help them earn credit toward a two-year degree.