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by Justin Jones
When Scott Brewer reflects on the impact that the Collin County Law Enforcement Academy (CCLEA), located at Collin College’s Central Park Campus in McKinney, had on his law enforcement career, he quickly thinks about the professionalism, structure, curriculum, diversity and strong character its in¬¬structors promote.
Sitting in an office over¬looking one of the academy’s training facilities, he acknow¬ledges that these traits described to him by officers affiliated with the program are what sparked his interests in the academy when his tenure in the Navy ended in 1996.
While transitioning from the Navy into a new career, one thing was evident for Brewer—his next professional desire had to embody a structure similar to his military experiences.
Brewer found exactly what he was looking for in the CCLEA, which holds classes in and has training facilities adjacent to Collin College’s Central Park Campus.
Now a McKinney Police Department lieutenant, he is also responsible for the police department’s recruitment, hiring and training of new officers—many of whom attended the same academy that Brewer credits for teaching the "ins and outs" of law enforcement.
"The academy encompasses not just the curriculum but the understanding of diversity, integrity and what it means to actually serve," Brewer said. "This is one of the most professional academies I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of. It is strict because the structure is very, very important to make sure the students get the curriculum down and gain a good expectation of what law enforcement will be."
More importantly, since 1990, the officers from the academy have helped provide residents in Collin County safe and secure living conditions.
"If someone has made up their mind to become a police officer, then I would recommend attending the CCLEA because it’s committed to
seeing that every cadet succeeds and becomes a professional officer to their respected agencies," said Wylie Police Department Sgt. Anthony Henderson, a 1998 academy graduate. "The CCLEA also stresses strong character, high integrity and ethics."
Because of its high standards, the academy—a 22-week program that offers 775 hours of training—has maintained its status over the years as one of the top 10 programs in Texas.
After graduating from the academy, officers are prepared and eligible to take the Peace Officer Licensing Exam, which the academy has had a 100 percent pass rating for the past five years, according to Ron Spears, CCLEA director.
"That pass rate reflects the quality of instruction, dedication and commitment of our staff. While we continue to grow and strive for perfection, each year is a challenge to always top the year before," Spears said, noting that around 500 students enroll in the academy annually. "We have worked to foster a beneficial working environment and partnership with Collin County as well as the North Texas area. A well-trained officer is an investment to the agency and community that he or she serves. It’s the quality of our instructors and staff that put us at the top of the academies in Texas."
Included on this qualified staff is Henderson, who began teaching at the academy because he wanted to pass down some of the knowledge he’s gained since becoming a police officer.
"I believe the academy is one of the best around because the director has always tried to bring in the best instructors to provide the most up-to-date training," Henderson said. "The director looks for instructors who are excited about teaching and are knowledgeable in the topics they are instructing."
According to Brewer, topics are covered in a rigorous curriculum range, from penal codes to medical assistance and use of force issues—to name a few.
When not hitting the books, Brewer said, students learn defense tactics and can take advantage of the academy’s Public Safety Training Complex, which features a 10-line, indoor computer-controlled and environmentally-safe firearms facility.
The training complex also features an audiovisual classroom, weapons cleaning area, master control station for a moving target system, armor’s repair room and range master control room equipped with closed-circuit television for monitoring range activities.
"I liked the practical application of such topics as traffic stops, building searches, handcuffing, self-defense and the physical fitness training," said Leah Apple, a Frisco Police Department criminal investigator and June 2002 academy graduate. "The academy teaches the basics, which include the Texas Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Traffic Law, etc. They also have a physical fitness training portion at the end of each day and that was probably the most challenging."
The field training that the officers must do after graduating from the CLLEA, Henderson said, is just as challenging as what they learn during the in-depth academy.
That is why Henderson is a strong advocate of the academy—he knows that the procedures, training and the knowledge taught at the academy are important to an officer’s future, successful field training and career in law enforcement.
"There is no substitute for on-the-job training and experience," Henderson said. "Training as a cadet and a police officer is nonstop. You always train to sharpen your skills and improve your tactics."
And, as far as Brewer is con¬cerned, there is no better place to do that than at the Collin County Law Enforcement Academy.
"When I think of the academy, its structure and how it focuses on the curriculum, it really reinforces and draws out those people who have an in¬nate sense of duty to be a police officer," Brewer said. "That makes a big difference. That’s not to say other academies aren’t good at developing officers but I’m really fond of the CCLEA, it brings out the best in people."
To enroll or learn more about CCLEA at Collin College, call Gina Hight, chief training coordinator, at 972.548.6862