Grand Rapids Police Department sponsors recruits for GVSU Police Academy

GVL / Courtesy - Williamson N. Wallace

Williamson N. Wallace

GVL / Courtesy – Williamson N. Wallace

Hannah Lentz

One year ago, representatives from the Grand Rapids Police Department approached the Grand Valley State University Police Academy about the possibility of sponsored recruits. Starting in May 2017, the GVSU Police Academy will be home to several Grand Rapids Police Department trainees during the 16-week program.

In order to take part in the police academy at GVSU, a student must fall into one of two categories: a pre-service recruit or an inservice recruit. A pre-service trainee must be a graduating senior or have completed a two or four-year degree in order to apply for the academy. An inservice trainee can be someone who has received a high school degree and was referred by a police department.

For inservice recruits coming to the GVSU Police Academy on a referral from Grand Rapids, this referral also includes all training costs through the university’s academy, as well as an individual salary throughout the training period.

“These recruits will be getting a paycheck just like any employee,” said training director Williamson Wallace. “It’s an investment from the police department to their employees.”

When the police department refers potential candidates to the police academy, the candidates then have to go through the entrance process, just like any other candidate. Though the academy gives preference to inservice candidates, this does not take seats away from students applying with pre-service.

“We don’t have an official cap on enrollment through the academy,” Wallace said. “We have never turned away qualified applicants so this is not a concern for anyone not coming through Grand Rapids.”

The application process for the police academy includes references, a comprehensive background investigation, personality evaluations, a physical fitness tests and the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards writing and reading assessment.

Once recruits pass these entrance exams, they are hired by the Grand Rapids Police Department as employees, resulting in their eligibility to be salaried professions.

“It’s a risk the police department is taking,” Wallace said. “It’s a financial commitment to these recruits in hopes that they can later join the Grand Rapids force.”

The cost for the GVSU Police Academy can run anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000, including 15 credit hours of instruction, uniforms, a $1,700 student fee as well as training supplies for the 16-week training process.

“Students enrolled in this program won’t have to go to the bookstore,” Wallace said. “The cost of the academy includes the materials needed throughout the training.”

After the 16-week academy finishes, those enrolled have to take the state licensing exam before officially being sworn in. Currently, the GVSU Police Academy has a 100 percent licensing exam pass rate and a 81 percent employment rate.

“We go above and beyond the state mandate hours,” Wallace said. “We provide additional training that helps to expand upon the given curriculum.”