Tim Gonzales saved a young woman's life Saturday night.
"She was having an asthma attack. I happened to have some medicine on me and we rushed her the medicine," Mr. Gonzales said of the incident that occurred while he was riding with an Anne Arundel County police officer.
Mr. Gonzales wants to make a career out of saving lives, and catching unsafe drivers. This December, he and at least 11 others will be the first graduates of the Police Academy Track at Anne Arundel Community College.
The training program is for students who want to become law enforcement officers. It provides about 75 percent of the training students would get at the county police academy, but does not guarantee a job upon graduation.
The college, county and Annapolis police departments, and the Maryland Police Training Commission joined to develop the class. The purpose is to create a larger pool of candidates for the state's law enforcement agencies.
"[The graduates are] more marketable because they're just shy of being certified to be a police officer," said Lt. Mike Burmingham, commander of the county police academy in Davidsonville.
It takes 23 weeks to train a cadet at the academy, plus a few weeks of on-the-street training. Graduates from the community college's program only need four weeks of academy training in handling firearms and emergency vehicles, plus two weeks on the street. The shorter training time means the hiring agency doesn't have to spend as much on an officer.
Students complete 12 classes; eight at the Arundel campus, and four summer courses at the police academy.
The classes cost about $60 per credit. Most classes are three credits. Students pay their own expenses, which include books and a cadet uniform that is worn to class. The outfit of dark blue pants, shirt, belt with a silver buckle, black socks and patent leather black shoes cost more than $120.
During the summer session, students attend classes from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for six weeks. They learn survival skills, self-defense, how to handle a night stick and how to handcuff a suspect.
Ride-alongs with local officers are another way students try to prepare themselves for the job market.
They are not required to do ride-alongs, but are encouraged to do whatever is necessary to make them ready to become full-fledged police officers.
"We're not just trying to get a job, we're making a career out of this," said 22-year-old Rob Flynn, who expects to graduate this winter.