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Mansfield police academy expands program to help with police shortage

akron police training class
Cadets are being trained at an Akron police training class. Akron is one of many cities across the country facing a police shortage.

A police academy in Mansfield is expanding to offer an expedited full-time program. The goal is to help ease the nationwide police shortage.

North Central State College Police Academy Commander Brad Copeland said interest in attending the program had waned in recent years due to social unrest and racial tensions. Officers who have recently left policing often cite that as a reason. But Copeland said enrollment is bouncing back.

“We’ve seen kind of a resurgence here centrally with folks wanting to step up and be police officers," Copeland said.

Copeland said they’ve found jobs for all of their recent grads and that most cadets are joining local police departments.

“We’re getting police officers into vacancies in the area, which is so important for us to do," Copeland said. "If you want to be full time and you graduate the academy, you're getting hired, which is outstanding for the folks that come through the program."

North Central State College has offered a part-time program since the 1980s, and Copeland said area police departments are excited about their expansion.

“The community that we serve with the agencies has of course been really excited to have the fact that we’ve got a full-time academy locally and that we are producing cadets," Copeland said.

Copeland said a lot of their cadets are from Northeast Ohio and want to remain in the area.

"They want to stay locally to help our communities and that's an awesome thing to see as well," Copeland said. "You can see them leave our program and go back to their home communities to work where they grew up,"

The academy’s first full time class will finish in January. Recruitment is open for spring 2023, with instruction beginning in February and graduation slated for July.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.