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New public service class will train future police, firefighters

Local law enforcement, fire department and school officials discuss plans for the Public Service Academy on Friday.

Local law enforcement, fire department and school officials discuss plans for the Public Service Academy program on Friday.

Starting this fall, LeCroy Career Technical Center will offer Chilton County’s first public service class for high school students interested in becoming firefighters or police officers after graduation.

The class, called “Public Service Academy,” is designed to give students a head start in their education and training in the public service field.

LeCroy director Tommy Glasscock said the center is partnering with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department and local municipalities to present the class with personnel from law enforcement agencies and fire departments throughout the county serving as part-time instructors.

“We have a strong partnership with the sheriff’s department and our municipalities,” Glasscock said. “Our goal is to have a state-of-the-art training facility here in the future.”

Glasscock was referring to a project underway to remodel two buildings on LeCroy’s campus to create an educational and training facility for the class, complete with tools and equipment borrowed from or donated by local agencies.

“It will have the look of an actual fire station,” Glasscock said of the facility. “We hope to build a fire training facility here.”

Construction of the facility will be done by the start of school in August.

One thing the sheriff’s department is lending to the class for training purposes is a Humvee, Glasscock said.

Police cars, fire trucks, fire safety gear and emergency situation supplies are other things the center hopes to acquire or borrow from local agencies and departments.

The Public Service Academy is designed to educate students in grades 10–12 about issues in law enforcement such as criminal investigations and homeland security, as well as firefighting techniques and fire safety.

“Part of the program will teach them how to identify safety issues in their schools,” Glasscock said. “Hopefully, that will be part of our school safety program.”

Glasscock said students taking the class have the option to concentrate their studies and training in either law enforcement or firefighting, or they can complete the class in both fields.

Students may start police training in 10th grade and fire training in 11th or 12th grade.

Students who complete the program will get the basic 160 course required to become a volunteer firefighter and may then go to the Alabama Fire College for a five-week bridge course to become certified firefighters.

Glasscock said the class is replacing one of two existing business units at LeCroy since one of the center’s business instructors is retiring this year.

The idea to create a public service class in Chilton County similar to programs in Tuscaloosa and Shelby counties came up in conservations Glasscock had with Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden and the Board of Education nearly three years ago.

Glasscock, Hayden, board members and local law enforcement officials met numerous times to talk about how the class would be offered, structured, funded and taught if it were offered at LeCroy.

The board approved for the class to be added to the center’s fall schedule on May 21.

“This has been a three-year process,” Glasscock said. “It’s been a vision come true.”

Part of the funding for the Public Service Academy class will be the funding already earmarked for the business unit, and the other part will come from donations and possibly future grants the center could receive.

Glasscock said the state House of Representatives recently passed a $50 million bond issue for career tech education programs across the state, which will allow LeCroy to upgrade their existing programs and eventually add new ones to their course list.

The class will be offered in a morning session and an afternoon session five days a week. Each session will be about two-and-a-half hours.

“We already have 50 signed up,” Glasscock said. “I think we’re going to have a waiting list next week.”

He said students who aren’t able to take the class in the fall could take a business law class that coincides with the public service curriculum.

No prerequisites are required for the Public Service Academy.

For more information, call LeCroy Career Technical Center at (205) 280-2920.