BOONE, N.C. — As the Appalachian State University Police Department (APD) prepares to welcome new cadets to its Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP) — now in its second year — Officer Bryce Helms is looking back on how far she has come since graduating from the program’s Appalachian Police Academy in August 2018.
Helms, a senior criminal justice major from Monroe with a minor in psychology, is the first APDP cadet and graduate of the 2018 police academy to achieve full-time employment as a police officer.
While working as a part-time officer in the APDP, she applied for and was offered a position as a full-time officer with APD. She began training for the role in early January and is partnered with a field training officer who evaluates her progress.
“Helms has been doing great work with us as a part-time officer, and she really set herself apart as a strong candidate for a full-time position,” said Capt. K.C. Mitchell, director of the APDP. “This is a great achievement.”
She credits her new position to her hard work, desire to serve others and dedication to taking full advantage of the training and experiences available to cadets in the APDP.
The most valuable experience she has taken away from the program, Helms said, is the training. “Being a police officer, the job is different every day. Training is very important and valuable to police work,” she said. “Training helps you fine-tune your skills and prepare for the least expected.”
Helms said the APDP’s benefits are many: The program has fulfilled the internship requirement for her major; allowed her to obtain Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) certification; and covered the expenses for her participation in the police academy.
Additionally, she said she has “met some amazing people and learned some amazing things” through Appalachian’s APDP. “It is a journey that led me to my career, and one I will never forget,” she added.
After a successful first year of training students and helping them to explore policing as a career, Andy Stephenson, Appalachian’s director of public safety and chief of police, said APDP applications are already coming in for the 2019–20 academic year. The program is open to all full-time students, regardless of their major or degree program, and costs nothing to students beyond regular tuition.
If accepted to the program, students have the opportunity to attend the next police academy this summer on Appalachian’s main campus, in which they can earn their BLET certificate. Upon successfully graduating from the academy and earning their BLET certification, students work in paid, part-time positions as sworn officers around campus.
“As the future boots on the ground, Appalachian’s cadets can graduate with the tools they need to shape both their careers in policing and the future of these public services in the state of North Carolina,” Stephenson said.
“The one thing I would like to share with a student thinking about applying is, ‘It is totally worth it!’” Helms said. “Being able to graduate college with a degree and a Basic Law Enforcement Training certification is quite an honor and accomplishment … don’t be scared to step out on a limb to join the program.”
For more information about the program and how to apply, click here.
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About the Appalachian Police Department
Appalachian State University’s official policing agency — the Appalachian Police Department — supports the university’s academic mission by working in partnership with the campus community to prevent crime, solve problems and improve the quality of life on campus. The department’s philosophy is one of proactive community engagement, collaboration and customer service, holding the safety and health of App State’s community members as its top priorities. State-certified police officers, security officers and civilian employees compose the department, and this team of professionals helps to create and maintain an inclusive sense of belonging for all members of the Appalachian Community — students, faculty, staff and visitors. Additionally, through its efforts, the department aims to be a leader in innovative public safety ideas and strategies. Learn more at https://police.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.