Law enforcement enrollment low
Columbus discusses ways to increase interest
COLUMBUS—The Town of Columbus discussed the fact that enrollment in Basic Law Enforcement Training is low currently and how the town could help people who want to go into the field.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday and heard from town manager Tim Barth about incentives for the BLET program. Barth said currently the program costs money and takes 10 months to go through the program.
Columbus Police Chief Scott Hamby said the program is 10 months part time and five months full time.
“It’s a long process, in other words,” Hamby said.
Barth said the program is also a financial hardship on some applicants.
“The sheer number of applicants is way down,” Barth said.
Hamby said several of the community colleges have had to cancel classes because of the low number of applicants.
“The point is, law enforcement officers are at a premium now,” Barth said. “The pool of available applicants needs to grow. It’s not just our department where we’ve had vacancies for over a year. It’s also highway patrol and every local agency.”
Barth and other town officials recently met with state officials for the governor’s Hometown Strong program. Barth said he spoke with state officials about some kind of incentive for people to sign up for BLET and a type of scholarship applicants could receive.
Hamby said it cost an applicant $1,800 just for the books and most applicants have to give up a job to go through the program.
Councilman Mark Phillips asked if there is a way for the town to pay for applicants if they come work for the Columbus Police Department.
Hamby said if the town decides to do that, there needs to be a hook for the department to keep them employed for a certain amount of time.
“We’ll foot the bill but you have to commit for whatever term is fair,” Phillips said.
Other police matters Barth said he spoke with state officials about were possible surveillance cameras for intersections. Barth said the Columbus Police Department does a great job, but sometimes it would be beneficial to have security cameras in certain locations so they could get a description of a vehicle.
“The purpose wouldn’t be to know if a person ran a red light,” Barth said. “The purpose would be to know if a person were involved in a crime.”
Barth said the state officials said they had some surveillance cameras, including from armed forces equipment that is sometimes useful for law enforcement. Barth said state officials said they would let Hamby know what they have.