SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg Community College is partnering with local law enforcement agencies to cut down on staffing shortages.

With crime on the rise, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said they are seeing fewer people fill open positions.

“It’s more crucial now more than ever,” said Lt. Kevin Bobo with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. “I totally understand why people are hesitant to get into this profession.”

It’s an issue the sheriff’s office said impacts the community.

“We always like to be proactive as opposed to reactive. When you are understaffed, a lot of times, all you can do is react and it doesn’t allow us the time to spend investigating incidents that you normally would, if you had enough manpower,” said Lt. Bobo.

There’s a new way, the sheriff’s office said, that is working in favor of Upstate agencies.

“We have this new Pre-Police Academy training and it’s going to help streamline and improve the ways in which we can train police and serve as recruitment for law enforcement agencies here in our community,” said Colton Grace, Director of Strategic Communications at Spartanburg Community College.

According to Spartanburg Community College, a fast-track course is scheduled to roll out this fall. It will offer a more hands-on experience for students with hopes to enter the profession, while cutting down on the time it takes to enter the force.

“It’s a more fast track. What would usually be a 15 week course in Columbia, you can do two days a week here and knock out your first eight weeks of training,” said Grace.

The college said you have to be 20-years-old to apply.

“Anyone aged 20 can apply for this program and spend a one-semester knocking out four courses, eight weeks of police academy training here in the community college in the communities they will hopefully go on to serve,” said Grace. “In these trainings they would take these basic law, basic procedures, criminal proceedings, and understand some of those things with the instructor versus in large settings with individuals in Columbia.”

“It’s a win-win for us,” said Lt. Bobo. “It gives them a huge leg-up and also knocks a month off of their academy training.” 

After finishing one semester, student can apply directly to one of South Carolina’s law enforcement agencies. If accepted, deputies said students will finish the remainder of their training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia.

Course credits for the program are to be put towards an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, the college said.

“I hope there’s young people out here, men and women, who will take advantage of this opportunity, because we have never had an opportunity like this in this county before,” said Lt. Bobo.

The program is one that leaders at Spartanburg Community College are hoping will help minimize understaffing in law enforcement and improve the Upstate community.

“We have a very serious issue with shortages at both of our local police departments and we hope that this can be an option to shorten and streamline and improve the ways we bring in officers to serve in our community,” said Grace.

Applications are now being accepted for the program. To apply you can visit the college in person or apply online at sccsc.edu.