Polk sheriff begins program to recruit more local officers

Published 9:58 am Thursday, May 12, 2011

Polk County residents who have  dreamed of becoming law enforcement officers may soon have their chance.
Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill is beginning a program to recruit and train officers who reside in Polk County.
The sheriff’s office currently has 25 officers, or 58 percent, who reside in Polk County and 18 officers, or 42 percent, who live outside of the county.  Most of the officers who do not reside in Polk County travel from Henderson and Rutherford counties. A total of 43 officers currently work in the sheriff’s office and the jail.
Hill has expressed concerns to county commissioners lately regarding losing officers to other departments in nearby counties.
Hill said it is his goal to have as many Polk residents work for him as possible.
Hill’s new Reserve Officer Program includes offering to sponsor qualified Polk County residents to attend Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) to be certified as a police officer. By gaining a sheriff sponsorship, qualified candidates can attend the training for free.
“I want to give Polk County residents a chance to get into law enforcement who may not have had the chance otherwise,” Hill said.
BLET certification involves school and training at a few area colleges. If enough Polk residents are interested, officials said it may be possible to do a special training within Polk County.
Schools that currently offer BLET include Isothermal Community College (ICC) in Spindale, Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville and Asheville-Buncombe (AB) Technical College in Asheville. Courses are normally offered during the day and night. Training takes approximately four months during the day full-time or approximately eight months at night part-time.
The new program will give residents the opportunity to gain the certification. After becoming certified, they will fill in at the sheriff’s office as reserve officers in the absence of full-time deputies. Reserves are needed to cover shifts when full-time officers attend training, take vacation and for sick leave.
Reserve officers are given first consideration to be hired full-time when job openings become available.
To be considered for the Reserve Officer Program, candidates must meet the following qualifications:
• Must be at least 21 years of age by the completion of the BLET training;
• Must possess a valid North Carolina driver’s license;
• Must pass an intensive background investigation and
• Must be of good, moral character.
Hill also encourages any residents who already possess law enforcement certification to join the reserve program.
To be considered for Polk County’s Reserve Program, contact Capt. Chuck Hitch or Lt. Michael Capps at 828-894-3001.

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