by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--After graduating their first class in 1983, many are wondering, how this happened and what it means for agencies that count on those new recruits.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Dean of Career, Technical and Workforce Education, Dr. Gregory South said, "We're here today to discuss the unfortunate loss of the Odessa College Law Enforcement Academy's license by the TCLEOSE, (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education), the Texas licensing agency."
20 years after granting them a license to train and certify law enforcement officers, the same commission has stripped them of that privilege.
"That came down to one student, who missed completing the exam by one question. We had 13 out of 16 students pass the exam. If 14 had passed, we would have maintained our license," Dr. South explained.
In 2007, the Peace Officer and Corrections Officer programs scored below the State mandate for graduates taking their exams for the first time. After being put on probation and hiring a new Chair and Dean, those numbers changed in 2008, but it wasn't enough.
"That's not unfair to us because we were on probation," commented South. "But it's a shame to end those programs, that serve such a large need, when we've done everything that we've been asked to do."
Two current classes will be the last to be certified as law enforcement officers from Odessa College at least for the next 5 years.
"We made the changes. However, once they revoke the license, it takes 5 years before you can re-apply," South said.
The Odessa College Law Enforcement Agency serves a 13 county district, including Ector County and the City of Odessa.
"We regret that it's occurred. We were very pleased with Odessa College's academy and it had produced quality candidates for us and we were quite happy with the relationship," Odessa Police Chief, Timothy Burton, said.
Burton says they now have a two-fold problem, wanting to start a new class of recruits in January and what to do for future classes, "We will have discussions with Permian Basin Regional Academy in Midland about them accepting our recruits for the January class. We're examining now, the possibility of obtaining our own license for the Odessa Police Department, in order for us to be able to operate a police academy."
The OC Academy employees over a dozen professors and instructors. Dr. South says their mission and goals remain the same, finding a way to move forward, maintain or evolve the program to best serve the community and keep everybody working, "Our goal has been to be the best peace officer and corrections officer program in the State."