BOONE, N.C. — Fifteen recruits graduated from the Appalachian State University Police Academy in August and all passed the examination to become certified North Carolina police officers. This marks the academy’s second graduating class. Graduation from the academy is a significant milestone of the Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP) — the second of its kind in the nation and the only such program in North Carolina.
Of last year’s graduating class, 100% are employed or pursuing further education. In all, 36 recruits have graduated from the academy since the APDP was launched in 2018.
Andy Stephenson, Appalachian’s director of public safety and chief of police, said, “After graduating from our program, Appalachian students entering the criminal justice system job market will have two years of work experience in policing, bachelor’s or graduate degrees, North Carolina law enforcement certification and training, and the exposure to different races, cultures, ideas and beliefs that enrollment at an institution of higher education provides. Appalachian students will be the policing leaders of tomorrow.”
Students who complete the two-year APDP become sworn police officers while simultaneously earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The program is offered free of charge for full-time Appalachian students, regardless of major. Students receive payment for their training hours and part-time work as cadets and police officers with the Appalachian Police Department (APD).
During the academy graduation ceremony, APD Capt. K.C. Mitchell, who serves as director of police development and training coordinator, congratulated the students for their significant achievement.
The event’s guest speaker was Brent Herron, associate vice president for campus safety and emergency operations for the University of North Carolina System. Herron leads the UNC constituent institutions in the areas of campus safety, emergency management and continuity planning.
Abigail Rivera, of Durham, one of the graduating recruits who is a senior criminal justice major, served as the ceremony's class speaker. She thanked Mitchell for believing in the recruits and for motivating them.
Additionally, Rivera said she was grateful to have had the privilege to be part of a program that allowed her to grow both physically and mentally and that introduced strong female role models who helped her discover a new level of strength and confidence.
Earlier this year, the North Carolina Police Executives Association named the APD as the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year, primarily for its APDP.
Applications for the program are accepted annually. For more information, visit the APDP website.
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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 the Appalachian Police Officer Development Program
The two-year Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP) at Appalachian State University — the second of its kind in the nation and the only such program in North Carolina — equips students with the knowledge, skills and training to become certified law enforcement officers in North Carolina, while simultaneously earning their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Students become cadets in their first year of the program and have the opportunity to complete the Appalachian State University Police Academy during their second year to become sworn North Carolina police officers. The program is open to all full-time students, regardless of major, and students receive an hourly wage for the part-time work and training they complete with the Appalachian Police Department (APD). Learn more at https://police.appstate.edu/apdp.
About the Appalachian Police Academy
The Appalachian Police Academy, also known as “the academy,” is an annual, 16-week training program held each summer on Appalachian’s campus in which participants in the Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP) have the opportunity to earn their credentials as certified North Carolina police officers. The academy is accredited by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to administer Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) and covers all state-mandated training topics. APDP participants attend the academy full time between the first and second year of the program and are paid for their time in training. After graduating from the academy, they may begin working with the Appalachian Police Department as sworn part-time police officers for the second year of the program while they earn their degrees at Appalachian. Learn more at https://police.appstate.edu/apdp.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, 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 nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.