Preparing our youth for a career in law enforcement with certifications

In today’s society, we see law enforcement officials in a negative light, which impacts student’s interest in that profession.  We have to provide tangibles to our students to peak their interest in this field.  How do we do this, you ask?  Why not try to provide them with as many certifications as possible to get them to the top of the pile of applications.

How do certifications make a person more employable, do you ask?  A police officer, correctional officer, security officer, dispatch, all have to take a certification test in order to be fully certified as an officer or dispatcher.  Why not challenge them while in high school, with preparing them first with the intangibles such as soft skills.  Customer Service and Employability are two we use in Grand Prairie Independent School District and at my high school, Grand Prairie High School.  These certification help them understand the importance of a handshake and introducing yourself to people out in the community and how to look people in the eye.  I makes them a sellable product which is an employee.  Now, this might not land them a job, but will certainly help make that first impression to the employer or might even be the tie breaker in some cases.

Next, let’s talk about how to prepare them for the law enforcement profession with career certifications.   Some of the reasons our students are not getting hired or are let go after employed in law and public safety jobs is due to their social media accounts or issues with these while at the work place.  We first start our students with some of the basic tools needed such as Cyber Ethics through  This will help them understand the importance of the web but on how to protect themselves while on the internet.

We then transition right in how to help their families and community by providing them with FEMA training in IS 100, IS 200, IS 700 and IS 800.  These courses help students create plans on how to prepare for a disaster or a terroristic attack.  You might ask, how does this coincide with law enforcement?  First, law enforcement and first responders are the first to arrive at these type of events from disasters, school shootings, or terroristic attacks.  Why not make students better at understanding how important it is to have a plan of action?

Falling right into place with preparing for disasters, our last certification with our 9th Grade students is Internet Basic Emergency Management through  This helps not only those who wish a career in EMS or Firefighting, but also those who are in law enforcement as well.  With each of these certifications their 9th grade year, will make them become a better and knowledgeable citizen.

During their 10th grade year, students will begin their first certification and learn about Cyber Law and White Collar Crime through  This is an occupation which is on the forefront of one of the most sought after professions from the federal government to local law enforcement.  Students will learn about the laws and crimes associated with the use of the internet and other related crimes.  After they dive into this, we then bring in more about disaster preparedness with FEMA IS 317.  This is for Community Emergency Response Team training where students learn how to implement their knowledge to help their school, family and community.  After learning about how to help their family, school and community, they then learn about Customer Service and Employability.  This will help them before starting part-time jobs or when they begin to learn about their internship programs.  Lastly, is information Security for Everyone through  This helps students understand about the internet, credit card information, social security numbers and many other things they should be knowledgeable about before putting their personal information out there.

Now comes the critical year for students where they start diving right into industry level certifications while in their corrections class.  Since I currently work for the Blue Mound Police Department as a reserve police officer, I have the ability to teach APCO Public Safety Telecommunications I, dispatcher certification which is a national certification.  This is a semester course which is taught by me and will assist students with passing their state level certification or critical test with a local agency.  It will also help with landing and internship with Grand Prairie Police Department which we have an articulation agreement with for our students as interns.  After they receive this certification, we then have them take the online Municipal Jailer certification through, which will assist them with a profession at a municipal jail.   This is a 45 day course, which is all on line and self-paced for students.  Once they pass this test, they will then begin working on the Objective Jail Classification certification through  They will learn how in prisons, county corrections and municipal jails classify inmates based on their history or medical records.  Lastly, students work on their Terrorism Awareness for Emergency Responders.  This help them conceptualize how they will respond to these types of situations and what to think about before responding.

In their law enforcement class student will take the Security Level II certification through  This will help them secure an internship with Lone Star Park as a security intern.  They will also take the Cyber Safety Certification through Career Safe and CJ/CSI through SkillsConnect.  During this class they will also become First Aid, CPR and AED certified as well.  All of these certifications will be utilized for internships purposes.

Their last year at our high school is really important.  We want them to prepare for the next step in higher education or prepare them for a career in law and public safety.  We do this by providing a certification in effective communication and interviewing through  We owe it to our students to help them become a productive employee and citizen no matter if they choose a profession in law and public safety or not.

Now, this is not for all students and you must have back-up plans in case a student is not successful in the certifications.  We have peer to peer mentoring which helps students with their certifications from other students who are done or are ahead.  Students who struggle might need one on one instruction which is provided by me in the classroom.  You might ask, how is all of this paid for?  Our CTE department pays for most of these certifications and allows for $80 per school year to cover the cost.  The 9th grade year all certifications are free and that money falls into their 10th grade year.  Money not used that year falls into the 11th grade year which costs about $300 per student.  Their 12th grade year costs about $35 per student.  The total cost for all students is about $350 for four years.  That costs about $88 per school year for each of the students.  This is to ensure students are successful outside of high school and have an edge over others to are applying.

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