NOW THE TRUE education begins. The 44 men and women who went through the first 16-week Police Corps training period have been assigned to their respective departments and within weeks will be on the street. Twenty-eight will remain in Baltimore, 16 are headed to Charleston, S.C. Whatever they learned in the classroom will be nothing like the real thing.
Some will cut it; some won't. That would be expected of any class of rookie cops. Expectations for this group are higher, however. Each has a college education.
The Police Corps is the brainchild of Adam Walinsky, a New York lawyer who lobbied for the idea for 15 years before finally persuading Congress in 1994 to provide $50 million to start the program. Police Corps members have committed to serving four years. In exchange, the program will help pay off their college bills.
Before Baltimore's Police Corps graduates are deemed full-fledged officers, they must train an additional five weeks with their assigned police departments to learn local laws and defense techniques. The rookies know one of their greatest challenges will come from fellow officers who might resent implications that the new guys are an elite group. The best way to overcome that is by proving their mettle in the field. With graduation comes that opportunity.
Police departments across America have been criticized for their lack of professionalism and inability to forge the personal relationships with law-abiding citizens so essential to modern law enforcement. The Police Corps not only should help improve the caliber of officers, but it provides individuals with a way to give back to their communities.
Pub Date: 12/24/97