03/14/10 — James Sprunt police program suspended

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James Sprunt police program suspended

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on March 14, 2010 1:50 AM

KENANSVILLE -- James Sprunt Community College has suspended its Basic Law Enforcement Training Program in response to an audit by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

Students in the program were unable to take the required BLET comprehensive written exam in November of 2009. Now, officials say that this year's exam, and the program itself, is suspended as well.

The decision to suspend the program in its entirety is one made "in the best interests of (the college's) students," and the college is taking proactive steps to respond to the audit, a released statement said Thursday.

According to a letter sent to James Sprunt President Dr. Lawrence Rouse on Dec. 4, an audit of the program revealed that "curriculum instruction required for the delivery of course work in Law Enforcement Driver Training may not be in compliance due to stipulated instructional irregularities in number of lecture hours provided, the lack of a required model policy not being presented, irregularities in allowed amount of practical exercise time, and irregularities in procedure and scoring practices and practice runs."

The audit also called into question what Director Wayne Woodard described as "a lack of Commission School Director oversight of the class reflected by the lack of instructor(s) evaluation" and "test scoring irregularities in the delivery of course work in Elements of Criminal Law."

Field Services Coordinator Alex Setzer conducted an audit on Nov. 20-21 by interviewing four BLET day class students, one commission instructor and three college staff persons. The audit "did reveal that the administration of instruction regarding skill practical exercises and/or academic courses might not be of sufficient merit to meet the certification standards associated with the satisfactory completion of course work," the letter said.

According to Rouse, the chairman of the Vocational and Technical Program at JSCC, monitored the required driving training instruction and noted some concerns and discrepancies in regards to meeting the certification standards as required by the commission. The chairman then reported his concerns to the college administration, who reported the issues to the state Criminal Justice Education and Standards Commission. The commission then began auditing the college's BLET program.

Current students in the program will be offered the chance to re-take the course at Sampson Community College, and James Sprunt will pay for it, the statement said.

The course will begin May 1, and day and evening students enrolled at James Sprunt during the 2009-10 academic year may enroll at Sampson Community College free of cost. Students unable to enroll in May are invited to re-take the course as one of the other colleges in the region beginning in August.

The college will begin working to improve the BLET program in order to comply with the commission's requirements.

However, some damage has already been done to the next generation of law enforcement officers in the region, student Isaiah Kennedy said.

Kennedy, a member of the National Guard Reserve, was one of the 14 students in the fall 2009 class who were left in limbo after being unable to earn their BLET certification.

Some of his classmates already had law enforcement jobs waiting for them after the final exam, but lost those potential positions when they were unable to take the test. Kennedy himself no longer plans to go into law enforcement, and instead hopes to pursue a career in the military. In the meantime, however, he has been working at a hotel.

"We feel like we're being punished," he said.