COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- States across the country are experiencing a shortage of law enforcement. And unfortunately in South Carolina the situation is no different.
However, the state’s criminal justice academy is revamping how it trains officers to try and fill the many vacancies across the state.
The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy rolled out a new training process to speed up the time it takes for a future law enforcement officer to apply for the job to actually being put on the streets to do it.
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster represents just one of many law enforcement departments across the state with vacancies.
“I think personally we are facing a crisis,” said Sheriff Foster, who currently has 7 vacancies within his department.
But getting an officer in uniform hasn’t been the easiest process.
Sheriff Foster continued, “It’s generally going to take a year from the point where you’re going to hire and get the person trained and available to be on the road by themselves.”
Before June the academy could only offer 16 training classes of 70 students a year, each class lasted 12 weeks.
SCCJA Director Jackie Swindler explained, “We were having about an average of 106 day wait for students to come here.”
The academy started a new training process in June to shorten that wait time.
Law enforcement officers will now take 4 weeks of training with the hiring department before heading to Columbia for the remaining 8 weeks.
“The students do 4 weeks at home of videos we have produced. they take a test every week. Then they come here and take a cumulative test and if they pass that and the physical we give them an assignment to come here,” added Swindler.
The Academy will now be able to add 8 more classes of 70 students because of this program. The change could potentially create an additional 560 new law enforcement officers.
“Who’s going to be there when you need a deputy,” said Sheriff Foster.
The SCCJA is also hoping that by officers spending 4 weeks at their home department, the retention rate and graduation rate will also improve with this new process.
Last year, the Academy enrolled 1169 students, 856 successfully completed the program.