Local News

Wake Tech trains officers in staying safe

Posted January 8, 2016 6:54 p.m. EST

— An ambush shooting Thursday night of a Philadelphia police officer and other recent shootings in which law enforcement officers appear to have been targeted have raised concerns about police safety.

A program at Wake Technical Community College is designed to alleviate those concerns.

"We're here to protect as many people as we can," said Jeffery Robinson, law enforcment training director at Wake Tech's Public Safety Education Center in Raleigh.

The center trains police recruits and veteran officers how to stay safe while working an inherently dangerous job.

"The main thing is to try and be as aware as possible of your surrroundings so you can be ready for everything," Robinson said.

Even with the training, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said no amount of preparation can help in certain situations, such as the ambush in Philadelphia.

"If a man that is willing to risk his own life, it's hard to stop a person like that," Harrison said.

Enrollment in courses such as "Officer Survival" has grown with the increase in officer-involved shootings, Robinson said. There is also usually a waiting list of applicants who want to be police officers – even with the increased risks.

So far this year, 62 people have applied to Wake Tech's Basic Law Enforcement Academy. That compares with 88 applicants for all of 2015, which was the most in recent years, college officials said.

"I always knew that I wanted to be in public safety," police recruit Colby Sawyer said after finishing his final exam. "I believe that policing is a very noble career. We're always going to need police officers, and we are always going to need people who are willling to do it."