Huntsville Police, Calhoun Community College formalize partnership to enhance officer education

single-meta-cal March 21, 2018

Huntsville Police Academy graduation doesn’t merely earn a certificate and the next step into a career with Huntsville Police.

It can also mean important credit hours in a college education.

Huntsville Police and Calhoun Community College have had a long-standing relationship, recently firmed up with a new Memorandum of Understanding, that benefits its officers and future officers.

We live in a smart city, and I want the most intelligent police force we can get.”

Calhoun awards credit hours to graduates of the Huntsville Police Academy who are seeking an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, based on how the training parallels the school curriculum.

Additionally, Calhoun is offering credit hours for the volunteer work done by members of the HPD Ranger Corps, for students between 16 and 20 who have an interest in police work.

The initiative is two-fold, according to HPD Chief Mark McMurray. The first is to enhance the partnership with Calhoun, which has graduated numerous members of HPD. The second is to increase the level of education and professional development for officers.

“We live in a smart city,” McMurray says, “and I want the most intelligent police force we can get.”

Captain Dewayne McCarver, the Director of Training for HPD, has led the way with this new agreement with Calhoun. McCarver himself is a Calhoun graduate and beneficiary of the program years ago.

It’s a ‘win-win’ for City and Calhoun

Jim Stewart, a criminal justice instructor at Calhoun, is the liaison between the school and HPD.

“What it does for us is brings us students,” Stewart says. “It will increase our class size, being an impetus for the student to come and finish school since they already have credit for this and this and this. For the City, it means getting a college-educated employee. It’s a win-win,” he says.

Stewart sees another classroom benefit, in that officers working toward a degree who have gone through the Academy and worked on the streets often enhance the classroom experience for others.

The Criminal Justice program is “changing hearts and minds, getting young people ready to be police officers,” Stewart says. It’s a two-year track, with general education mixed with the specialized curriculum. It is also a transfer degree for those wishing to pursue a Bachelor’s.

Another program is in the planning stages that would award college credit to high school students. HPD is working with Huntsville City Schools to establish a criminal justice class at Grissom High School. It would be conducted by School Resource Officers and Stewart, and completion of the course would be transcripted for admission to Calhoun.

“It would be a seamless transition from high school to Calhoun to HPD,” Stewart says. “It starts the pipeline, getting kids ready to go into law enforcement, to catch them early and get them on the right track.”