The Best in Blue: Police Academy Prepares Future Law Enforcement Officers – Part 1
Broward College Training Program is Number One in the State
Instructors in “red shirts” scream encouragement as a handful of students grunt and groan while running up, down and around an obstacle course in a corner lot near Building 22 on the Broward College A. Hugh Adams Central campus in Davie.
All that noise is what comes out of physical agility training and what goes into preparing the next generation of law enforcement or, more formally, the 323rd class of cadets at the Broward College Police Academy.
For 22 weeks or 770 hours, the group is trained at Broward College to meet both the mental and physical requirements demanded of a career as police, sheriff or corrections officer in Florida. All recruits enrolled in the basic training are sponsored by a Broward County law enforcement agency.
Upon successful completion of the program, the recruits are eligible to take the Florida Department of Law Enforcement State Officer Certification exam. A passing score on that exam, enables the student, if not already hired, to be eligible to fill one of 300 current employment vacancies at law enforcement agencies across the county.
Linda Wood, dean of the Institute of Public Safety where the Police Academy is housed, said 96 percent of the students who participate in the basic training, pass the examination on their first attempt. That distinction ranks Broward College first among the 41 certified programs by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to provide basic and advanced training.
A good deal of the credit goes to advisors like Jillian Casillas and Joseph Mercogliano, who look after the cadets, from academic and physical training to morning formations and uniform inspections. Casillas said that might translate into days, evenings, and weekends on campus to help the cadets with whatever they may need.
“I absolutely love my job,” said Casillas, who represents the Broward Sherriff’s Office. “I love seeing the change in cadets from when they first arrive to when they graduate. They hold their heads up a little higher. Their shoulders are back a little more. That proud moment they have when they get that badge on their chest and the hard work has paid off.”
Mercogliano, who instructs on “high liabilities,” such as defensive tactics or firearms, said even though each class of up to 45 students seems to get younger, the responsibilities of each cadet in society today doesn’t get any easier.
“We’re trying to instill in the cadets the ethics, discipline and best practices they need to be community leaders,”” said Mercogliano, who has spent the past three decades with the Plantation Police Department while serving as an adjunct at Broward College since 2003 and a class instructor at the Police Academy for the past four years. “We are their role models and mentors. And sometimes we are as much their parents when they are away from home. These are young men and women who are just becoming adults, and they have the same personal problems as other students.”
For a majority of the law enforcement officers who work in Broward County and are products of the academy, that means a connection to Broward College where they developed the leadership skills and empathy that shapes both their careers and the future of policing.
You can find your future in Law Enforcement and Public Service at Broward College. Explore training opportunities, degrees and professional development programs at the Institute of Public Safety.
For additional information on becoming a certified officer in Florida, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement