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Police academy takes only the most determined candidates

Even though it was 38 degrees outside, Tyler Junior College Police Academy cadets still had sweat dripping off their faces while running sprints.

The academy began this year on Nov. 3 with 16 cadets, but only 13 remain.

Thomas Johnson, was named Department Chair/Director of Public Safety in September, is a strong believer in the physical training part of the academy.

“Before the academy begins, these people must be able to run one and a half miles, and be able to do proper push ups and sit ups,” Johnson said.

No time limit or amount is required, but the physical demands become progressively more difficult.

“It gave us a starting point, and even though it gets tougher throughout the course, it’s feeling more comfortable,” David Patterson, a current cadet, said.

At the end of the 18 weeks of academy, cadets must be able to run six miles.

TJC’s police academy works with the Tyler Police Department and the Smith County Sheriff’s Department.

Cadets have their physical training at each department, and train with current officers in the special training, such as what to do in real-life events.

“The physical training builds character,” cadet Jason Smith said. “It pushes us to another limit that we would have never otherwise done.”

Out of the 13 cadets, two are female.

“There is no special treatment for females. We are all equal,” Toska Graham, one of the female cadets in training, said.

Five out of the 13 cadets are military veterans. Most of which have always dreamed of being a police officer.

“I’ve wanted to be one since the eighth grade,” Cadet Justin Stockwell, a Veteran Marine said. “Now it’s just a lifestyle change.”

“We are serving on the civilian side now,” Andrew Mackey said.

Not only does Johnson believe that the physical ability of the cadets is important, but he also stresses the academic portion as well.

The state of Texas has ranked TJC as one of the top academies in the state for the academic portion.

A total of 13 tests are given throughout the 18 weeks to help cadets prepare for the state test at the end of the academy.

So far, Johnson’s cadets have had a 100 percent pass rate on the test.

“We train the cadets very hard, and work on etiquette,” Johnson said.

When training begins, he gives three pieces of advice to his cadets. “Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.” The cadets learn to live by that.

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