By Emily Bausch
The Appalachian State University Police Department (APD) was honored as the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year by the North Carolina Police Executives Association (NCPEA). NCPEA officials announced the award at the organization’s 2019 Annual Training Conference, held in Wilmington July 15–17. APD is the inaugural recipient of the award.
“This award reflects the Appalachian Police Department’s tremendous success in educating the next generation of law enforcement officers while fostering a safe campus with a culture of mutual respect and community engagement,” Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “Our law enforcement leaders champion policing as a highly principled profession — one that requires critical thinking and innovative ideas.”
According to NCPEA, a statewide organization for police leadership, this award was established to honor one North Carolina police agency each year that has pioneered an innovative program, policy or concept that demonstrates the principles of community policing, problem-solving strategies and/or strengthens community trust.
Tammy Pippen, executive director of NCPEA, said, “We were looking for agencies in North Carolina that are serving their communities in innovative and collaborative ways. We think Appalachian Police are creating a trend we hope that other agencies will try to follow. Students receive a BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) certification in addition to a college degree — that’s huge. That is like a succession plan within itself, and exactly what the NCPEA is looking to recognize.”
APD was selected as Agency of the Year primarily for its Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP) — the second of its kind in the nation and the only such program in North Carolina.
Students who complete this two-year program become sworn police officers while simultaneously earning their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The program is offered free of charge for full-time Appalachian students, regardless of major. Students receive payment for their training hours and part-time work as police officers.
Andy Stephenson, Appalachian’s director of public safety and chief of police, attributed the award recognition to the hard work of APD officers and the commitment to public safety made by Everts, Vice Chancellor Paul Forte and other Appalachian leadership.
“The ADPD was created to address Appalachian’s changing needs in policing while also helping to address the officer candidate shortages that have created statewide and nationwide recruiting challenges for many police departments,” said Stephenson, who initiated the program at Appalachian. He is a graduate of the Indiana University (IU) Police Academy — the first program of its kind in the U.S.
“The ADPD also provides participants with an unprecedented job market advantage,” he continued. “Graduates of the APDP have a skill and education level that no other entry-level policing applicants in North Carolina will have at such an early phase in their careers. The program provides North Carolina communities with truly exceptional police officer candidates.”
Pippen recognized the collaborative work the APDP engages in with a range of law enforcement agencies across the state. “This allows many agencies to also succeed with them and this is a success story within itself,” she said.
Now in its second year, the program is on track to graduate its second class of recruits in early fall 2019. These graduates work part time to gain professional experience as police officers while they complete their degrees at Appalachian.
For more information about APDP, visit https://police.appstate.edu.