October 20, 2010
Jeff Stich, a newly minted graduate of the Temple University Municipal Police Academy, didn’t just decide to enter into a career in law enforcement on a whim. It was a life goal, an internal imperative to help others.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. If you have the ability to do something to eliminate the negative in society, you have a responsibility to do it,” said Stich, 24, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait. “I was a cop in the Air Force, so there were a lot of ties to what I was learning at (Temple’s) Police Academy. No matter how much training you have, you’re always learning something new, always preparing for the types of encounters you’re going to face.”
On Tuesday morning, October 12, well before most anyone else arrived at Temple University Ambler where the Police Academy is held, Stich and four of the other 17 cadets that graduated the Academy on October 7 returned to help the newest group of 13 cadets get acclimated to the daily routine of morning formation and raising and lowering the American flag at the center of campus — a point of extreme pride for the Police Academy.
“It’s about taking pride in your country while coming together as a class, going through the ceremony with the proper respect. It’s important to know the basics, to have a set of skills to work from,” said Matt Reppert, 28, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. “It helps you become more disciplined and better trained. While I was in the military, I found that I truly enjoyed working with people and I wanted to do that while serving my community.”
Stich and Reppert are perfect examples of the rare individuals who place themselves in danger to ensure the safety of others. Police officers, of course, do so on a daily basis, placing the protection of their communities above all else. The Temple University Municipal Police Academy is training them how to serve and protect in the best way possible.
“Temple offers the academy training twice per year, typically starting in May and October, at the Ambler Campus; each session is usually 22 weeks long. The more than 760-hour curriculum includes everything from criminal law and defensive tactics to emergency vehicle driving, firearms, and ethics and integrity training, said Anthony J. Luongo, Director of the Criminal Justice Training Programs, of which the Temple University Police Academy is a part. “Academy graduates are a combination of hired — agency sponsored — and civilian — self-sponsored — people who are undergoing basic recruit training. Many will go on and become municipal, campus, housing, and transit police officers. We are also seeing more veterans in the academy who have returned from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
According to Police Academy Director Robert Deegan, Temple began offering academy training in 1968. The academy is state certified by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission and is attended by police recruits from throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties, and in some cases well beyond. All of the Academy’s faculty are either active or retired full-time law enforcement practitioners including police officers, deputy sheriffs, assistant district attorneys, and members of the judiciary. Deegan himself began teaching in the program in 1977.
“We have about 40 instructors. All of our instructors are required to become certified, they must have a minimum of three years experience in law enforcement, and they have had to have shown proficiency in the skills that they are teaching,” he said. “I think one of the things that makes our academy unique is the high academic standards our cadets are held to. We have some of the best skills instructors in the state; some that are nationally recognized. The program that we provide — the legal, personal, and professional skills that the cadets must learn — is exceptionally intricate and complex.”
According to Police Academy graduate Stephen Colella having instructors, “most of whom are still on active duty,” has proven extremely helpful.
“They’re sharing their professional experiences and what they’ve learned on the job,” said Colella, 24, who entered the academy with a degree in Criminal Justice from Lock Haven University. “The academy provides training in not just how to become a police officer but how to get a job in law enforcement — we’ve studied résumé writing and met with police chiefs from throughout the region. All of our instructors are potential future employers.”
Deegan said the primary goal of the Police Academy is to “provide the skills necessary to gain employment in law enforcement.”
“The skills training, the academy training, the life experiences that our cadets gain are beneficial in any area. How you deal with people, how you diffuse difficult situations, these are skills essential to law enforcement that are applicable to any job,” he said. “Local departments are ready to hire. New Jersey and Maryland also acknowledges and accepts our training with some addition training in their respective states.”
Police Academy graduations, such as the ceremony held on October 7, also prove to be excellent networking opportunities for the cadets, Deegan added.
“After the ceremony — and this has happened many times — I’ve had chiefs come up to me say ‘You have a nice operation, I think I’d like to talk to that (cadet),’” he said. “We’ve had departments tell us that they never expected the high level of knowledge our cadets graduate with. That’s exactly the kind of officer we want to put out there.”
More than 300 family, friends, instructors, and fellow law enforcement members packed the Ambler Campus Learning Center Auditorium for the October graduation ceremony. Hatboro Police Chief James Gardner provided the keynote address while graduating cadet Nicholas Castellano provided the class address.
The Upper Moreland Police Department provided the honor guard for the ceremony, which also included the presentation of several awards to the cadets including: Highest Physical Fitness (Orlando Reta); Emergency Vehicle Operation Training (Aaron Menzies); Firearms-Highest Qualifying Score (Andrew Poux); Firearms-Top Tactical Shooter (Jeff Stich); and Highest Overall Academic Achievement and Highest Overall Average (Zachary Brosius).
“With the Temple University Police Academy, we strive not merely to teach our cadets how to do police work, but how to be a police officer with all the ideals and virtues that we wish — and society demands — police officers to have,” said Luongo. “Policing is a tremendous opportunity to serve and to lead. Literally, it is a job for those who stand up and say ‘I am willing to be braver than most. I will be fairer than others. I will be physically and emotionally stronger. I will be wiser.”
The next Temple University Police Academy at the Ambler Campus begins in May 2011. Individuals interested
in applying may contact Robert Deegan at 267-468-8605, 215-204-9028 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.temple.edu/cjtp, where the application and information are available online.
Criminal Justice Training Programs (CJTP), a division of the Temple University Department of Criminal Justice, is a leader in the training of Pennsylvania’s criminal justice practitioners. From the Temple University Police Academy to in-service police training, to curriculum development for Deputy Sheriffs, to in-service training for Deputy Sheriff’s and basic and in-service training for Constables, the Ambler Campus program is one of the busiest law enforcement training centers in the state. CJTP is also one of two programs in the country to provide ProRanger training for the National Park Service. For more information, visit www.temple.edu/cjtp.