Date: 4-10-07

For immediate release.

Canton Native Proudly Serves His Hometown

Canton police officer Neal Swanger began his career in the field through the military police of the United States Army where he spent 10 years. But he always wanted to serve in his hometown. “When you run into someone you know, they tend to trust you a little bit more,” Swanger explains. “I’m not in it for the money. It is rewarding knowing you could be responsible for saving a life or helping someone. But the decision-making is critical. You must stand behind your decisions to be effective at your job.”

Swanger knew college wasn’t for him. That’s why he chose the Basic Law Enforcement Training course at Haywood Community College. To successfully complete the BLET program, graduates log more than 765 hours of class time over a 17-week period. At the end of that 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 graduates pass the four-hour state examination, they must be sworn in as an active law enforcement agent within 12 months, or lose their certification.

According to Jeff Haynes, Coordinator of Public Service Training, graduates of the BLET program can work for over 750 agencies in North Carolina—from parks and recreation officers to police departments. He said graduates from HCC’s BLET program are well represented throughout all Haywood County law enforcement agencies. From the local police departments to the sheriff’s office, HCC graduates are on the job.

Haynes said, “Graduating from BLET training not only signifies a career change but also a life change. Once these graduates go to work in the field, their lives are never the same.”

While in the Army, Swanger spent time in Germany, Korea, Iraq, and Kuwait performing jobs such as checking convoys for food and ammunition, tracking flights, and running the military police station.

According to Haynes, “Neal showed a lot of leadership, maturity, and responsibility as he went through the BLET program. He was also very professional. All of these traits are what makes a good law enforcement officer.”

Now, Swanger is happy doing what he has always wanted to do.

The next BLET class at HCC will start on May 14 and run through September 21. For information on this upcoming class or Basic Law Enforcement Training, contact Jeff Haynes at 627-4548 or