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Gulf Coast State College officials say recently more have enrolled in Law Enforcement Academy

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 10:31 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

According to officials with the criminal justice programs at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City enrollment at the law enforcement academy has gone up.

“The last two classes and then the one we’re getting ready to start in July are all showing sort of an uptick in enrollment,” said Director of the Gulf Coast State College Criminal Justice Program David Thomasee.

More enrollment means the possibility of more recruits at local or state agencies which officials say is even more important during the pandemic.

“You certainly don’t want your first responder agencies whether it’s law enforcement fire or EMS to be short-staffed,” said Thomasee.

Panama City Beach Police officials say they have seen some officers retire or leave the force early, but are still seeing a steady number of recruits come in.

“There’s people who still want to be law enforcement, I believe you’re born with that,” said Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman. “If you want to help people and take care of people, you’re going to fall into law enforcement. Those are the kind of people that look out and take care of the community and our visitors.”

Officials say while the style of teaching changed during the pandemic for new recruits, they say the quality did not.

“One thing we wanted to make certain of was that there was no decrease in the level of training that they got. We want to make sure all of our students are held to that high standard and we were not willing to make any concessions about that,” said Thomasee.

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