Officer deaths affect how next generation of law enforcement trains

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
More than two dozen officers across the U.S. have lost their lives in the line of duty so far this year. That has affected the way cadets are trained.

The group of cadets will finish the program in June. Between now and then they will do some driving training and more advanced firearms training. (WRDW-TV / April 27, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, April 27, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Twenty-five cadets are spending 18 weeks training to become the next generation of law enforcement.

On Friday, those cadets spent the day on the firing range. If they're not on target, it could affect their certification.

This kind of training has always been important, but it's even more crucial now. More than two dozen officers across the U.S. have lost their lives in the line of duty so far this year. That has affected the way cadets are trained.

Eric Snowberger is the lead instructor at the Augusta Tech Peace Officers Academy. He said a big part of the training is recognizing the dangers that come with the job.

"I've always known this job was serious, but me getting here and training these officers, they need to know that it can happen here," he said. "It's not happening in New York and Chicago and Miami -- it's happening right here in our community."

A community that's now training officers to stay alive by learning from officer deaths.

"A lot of the shooting situations we might be able to save some of these officers," he said.

Throughout the class, Snowberger keeps a memorial wall on the back of the classroom of officers killed in the line of duty. To the cadets, the wall is a reminder of what can happen.

"You realize that it's not a given that you'll make it back to the house, so you kinda just have to train under those circumstances and knowing that that situation could possibly happen," said Regina Flemming, class leader assistant.

The class goes over the circumstances of each death and talks about how to make sure it doesn't happen to them.

"You mourn the officers that have passed, but you also learn from how their deaths occurred and you kinda take that as a learning experience on your own," said Class Leader J.D. Allen. "You really just gotta keep going; you can't think that could be me because it could be anybody at anytime."

Last year, it was more than 160 officers, but Snowberger hopes his training saves his cadets' lives so they can protect yours.

The group of cadets will finish the program in June. Between now and then they will do some driving training and more advanced firearms training. They will then have their post certification and go on to start looking for jobs in law enforcement.

The next class at Augusta Tech Peace Officer Academy begins on July 9. If you are interested in registering, visit Augusta Tech's website.


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