PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 03-11-04



Graduates from Haywood Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program are well represented throughout all Haywood County enforcement agencies. From the local police departments to the sheriff’s office, the graduates are applying what they learned through the strenuous 17-week program.

According to Jeff Haynes, program director and lieutenant with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, of the last 13 law enforcement officers hired in Haywood County, 12 are HCC BLET graduates. "The BLET program provides graduates with a basic foundation," Haynes explained. "Then each agency they go to work for requires their own field and instructional training."

Haynes said graduates of the program can work for over 750 agencies in North Carolina from parks and recreation officers to police departments. The HCC BLET program has 33 blocks of instruction on various topics, some of which are: physical fitness training, traffic stops, building searches, and firearms.

The first BLET class graduated in 2000. Each class averages about 15 students with anywhere between 8 and 11 graduating. For the 17-week period, classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Students can miss only five percent of classes, which is about 30 hours. There are absolutely no exceptions to this policy, even sickness or family death. Students have physical training three times per week for an hour each time.

At the end of the 17-week period, candidates must pass the Police Officer’s Physical Aptitude Test. This is an obstacle/agility course in which participants must complete a variety of tasks, such as carrying dead weight, climbing stairs, and push-ups in a timed period.

After passing the four hour state examination, graduates must be sworn in as an active law enforcement agent within 12 months, or lose certification.

From five classes, the HCC BLET program has 48 graduates with only two females in its ranks. From the most recent class, which finished in December with nine graduates, one graduate is already employed with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and one has accepted a position with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office.

Craig Campbell graduated from the HCC BLET program in June 2003. He began working at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department in October of last year. Currently Campbell is a domestic violence officer with the department.

"The birth of my son prompted me to start the BLET classes," Campbell said. "I wanted to be a good role model for him."

Campbell said HCC’s BLET program provides excellent training and preparation for a job on law enforcement. "The practical exercises put students in scenarios we would be faced with on the job," Campbell explained. "The BLET program was very intense but it is a very good program."

Campbell said he looks forward to going to work when he’s off. "I feel like I’m contributing to the community by taking the bad guys off the street."

According to Chief Deputy Bobby Suttles, HCC BLET graduates are well trained. "Going through the program pays off," Suttles said. "We usually like for officers in domestic violence to have two years of experience but Campbell has done very well."

Besides the BLET program, the HCC Continuing Education program offers many extensive training classes to all law enforcement agents in Haywood County and surrounding areas.

As program director, Haynes was instrumental in starting the program. Haynes coordinates the classes with the schedules of all 57 adjunct instructors, as well as teaching some of the classes. He has been an employee with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years. He has also been an instructor for 10 years with the Criminal Justice Commission teaching at area community colleges.

Not only does Haynes bring a lot of experience to HCC’s BLET program; he also adds an ethical and moral perspective. "I feel that my position at HCC and the sheriff’s department is fulfilling," Haynes said. "I get an innate satisfaction in doing what’s right and teaching others a certain level of discipline, as well as instilling a code of conduct."

Haynes says it’s also helpful to be on hiring committees because through the BLET program, he gets to see some of the candidates and know a little about them. "I know if they’ve gone through HCC’s BLET program, they are the most qualified that can be put out there," Haynes said. "That’s the kind of person I want to back me up on a call."

"It’s interesting to see the change in perception of law enforcement these students have from their first day to graduation," Haynes said. "It’s always a 180 degree change."

According to Haynes, five HCC BLET graduates work for the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, three are employed with the Waynesville Police Department, three work for the Maggie Valley Police Department, and one is employed at the Canton Police Department.

The next HCC BLET class begins May 31. For more information about HCC’s BLET program, please call Jeff Haynes at 627-4548.

(Cutline:) Craig Campbell is a June 2003 graduate of HCC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training class. Within a few months of graduating from the class, Campbell started working for the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office. He is now a domestic violence officer with the department.