CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate sheriff hopes to reduce the backlog of recruits waiting to train at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
The new process starts this week.
“A lot of good things we’re able to do and interact with our community,” said serviceman Danny Swanger who’s now working towards a job protecting his hometown. “Graduated college and went to the air force.”
He’s among the first Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office recruits doing some of their SCCJA training at the agency where they will work.
“There’s a lot of young men and women that want to get into this profession but when we tell them they have to leave their families for 12 weeks, a lot of them it discouraged them,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller, who’s currently president of the SC Sheriff’s Association.
He says there’s still a 12-week training program – eight weeks at the academy in Columbia and four weeks locally, with recorded lessons from SCCJA staff.
During that time, his deputies learn from field training officers, but they have to pass the 4-week program and a physical abilities test in Columbia before getting in line for the academy where there’s still a backlog.
“I’ve got one guy that’s coming upon a year – he’s not been to the academy yet,” Mueller said.
He says the academy can now start a new class every two weeks instead of every three weeks.
“I spend a lot of time away from home as it is with the military so it gives me an opportunity not to do that 12 weeks,” said Swanger. “Anytime I can spend home and have the opportunity to be home, I like that.”
Mueller said he hopes the new process can eventually reduce class sizes and help reduce the backlog at the academy.
“We’ll be able to get more police officers graduating and putting them out in the field,” Mueller said. “We’ll actually have more moving into the profession versus those leaving the profession.”
Mueller said graduating the academy does not automatically mean a deputy is placed by himself on the streets.