City to get funding for Police Corps plan Program would train 120 students

August 16, 1996|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The U.S. Justice Department will fund training for 120 students in Baltimore under a federal Police Corps program similar to ROTC, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said yesterday.

"The purpose of the program is to recruit bright young people to law enforcement and to broaden the base of support for police work," Townsend said in a telephone interview from Ocean City, where she was attending the annual meeting of the Maryland Association of Counties.

"These recruits, who may go on to become doctors or lawyers after fulfilling their commitment to the Corps, will have a better understanding of policing," Townsend said.

Like students who enter the military's Reserved Officers Training Corps, each member of the Police Corps will receive financial assistance for his or her college education. Upon graduation, they will be obligated to serve in the Police Corps for the same number of years that they received aid from the program.

"The only difference between this program and the military's program is that students in the Police Corps will not be required to go through any training while attending college," said Adam Gelb, Townsend's senior policy adviser. While completing their education, ROTC candidates must attend boot camp two weeks each summer and train one weekend each month.

Maryland asked for $6.5 million to pay for training the 120 recruits. Justice officials have approved funding for 120 trainees but has not given the state a dollar figure for the funding. But Justice said it will spend up to $7,500 per year per student. The money will be used for scholarships and to reimburse the students' educational expenses.

Five other states -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas and Nevada -- also received Police Corps grants but Maryland will get the largest amount of funding, Townsend said. The six states will share $10 million in federal funds.

Townsend began developing the program 15 years ago while working on the campaign of her uncle, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

"The people at the city and state level who worked on this program did a great job," said Clinton R. Coleman, spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "This program invests in young people and invests in communities. And it puts more police on the street."

"Each recruit will receive 16 weeks of specialized training and then they will go through normal police training," Townsend said.

"The specialized training is intense," Gelb said. "It focuses on three areas: Moral character, leadership skills and community policing tactics."

The regular police training will take 24 weeks, said Sam Ringgold, spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. Fourteen weeks are spent in the classroom; the remaining 10 are spent in the field.

The Baltimore police force now has about 3,000 sworn officers, Ringgold said.

Townsend said she hopes the first class of recruits will be on the streets within a year.

"Because we want to get trainees on the streets as quickly as possible, we're recruiting recent college graduates to fill the first class," Gelb said.

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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