By Erika Neldner
For the second year, Reinhardt University and the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office have partnered to provide quality higher education for employees of the sheriff’s office.
The Educational Pathway agreement, signed May 16, allows CSO employees a pathway to undergraduate degrees, as well as the Executive Command and Leadership program.
During the inaugural year of the agreement, 11 CSO employees were selected to participate in one of the programs offered. According to Capt. John Gunning, who oversees training for the sheriff’s office, two employees enrolled in the Bachelor of Organizational Management & Leadership, six are participating in the Executive Command and Leadership Program (ExCL) – which includes command level Peace Officer Standards and Training credits and a Master of Public Administration, and three who enrolled in the police academy. One has completed the academy, and two are scheduled to graduate May 29.
“This has proven to be a valuable tool for our employees,” said Sheriff Frank Reynolds. “We continue to appreciate this partnership with Reinhardt University and are happy to have renewed the agreement for another year.”
The updated agreement extends educational opportunities to volunteer personnel, something Trey Drawdy, director of Reinhardt’s Public Safety Institute and interim dean of the School of Professional Studies, believes is a great addition.
“The updated agreement not only covers full-time employees but also volunteers who serve the community through the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office,” Drawdy said. “This is a way to reward the service of CSO reserve deputies and law enforcement Explorers who freely give their time in support of the sheriff’s office and the community.”
The Educational Pathway agreement includes the Associate of Science in criminal justice with a Police Academy option, which allows students to earn POST Basic Peace Officer Certification and satisfies 15 semester hours of criminal justice coursework. After earning their associate’s degree, Cherokee sheriff’s deputies can move on to earn the Bachelor of Arts in organizational management and leadership.
As they earn rank within the sheriff’s office and establish themselves as leaders in the department, they can continue to the ExCL program.
Drawdy said the original intent of the partnership, which remains intact, is to provide responsive and mobile academic programs that will meet educational and training needs for first responders and other public safety professionals.
The partnership also provides the opportunity for scholarship. The Leader’s Scholarship of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office will be open to those in the Associate of Science in criminal justice Police Academy option and the organizational management and leadership programs. Other scholarship opportunities include the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office Grant and the Special Tuition for the Master of Public Administration ExCL program.