BLET grads post 100-percent pass rate on state examDec 17, 2019
In all of the years that RCC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training School Director Jim Gunn has taught prospective officers, Monday night’s graduating class of 12 was the first time ever that he HAD 100 percent of his students pass the state exam.
That’s a long time, considering Gunn taught BLET for the Greensboro Police Department from 1987-2011, and has been at RCC since 2012.
Rockingham Community College’s 53rd Basic Law Enforcement Training class, which graduated Monday evening, Dec. 16, included Ean Rene Ward Bauguss, Tonya Sheree Downey, Joshua Luke Ferguson, Paul Dillon Fliehman, Brock Trammel Fox, James Dillon Jones, Mark Anthony Martin Jr., Jayron Lamar Rankin, John Metz Roberts, Aubrie Danielle Stoneman, Zachary Linden Warner, and Daren Benjamin Zeller.
According to Gunn, scores from the BLET state exam included one A, 11 Bs, and one C, and ranged from 76.33 to 90. The scores include one “partial” student, Dennis Haley, a former Danville, Virginia officer hired by the Reidsville Police Department, who only needed to attend 220 of the total 640 hours of training.
In 2000, the state exam changed from being one single test, to being broken into six units. Community colleges only get passing credit for students who pass all six units in their first try.
“I attribute the success to the students, but I’ve always thought we’ve had the best instructors of any I’ve ever had to deal with,” Gunn said. “Their level of commitment and their desire to pass on information is just great.”
As for the students, this 53rd class was the most cohesive he’s ever had.
“Sometimes they were hard to read, but they were just a good crew. So many times, you know they’re not listening and they act like they know it all, but this group was different. You could talk to them on a personal level so they would understand, they would not get upset with you,” he said.
For example, one student, after giving a flippant response, was reminded that a potential employer could be with the class that day. The student immediately recognized the mistake, without getting mad or upset.
“Every group of students has a different personality. For me, this doesn’t get old. It’s the same format and topics, getting new information when you can, but every class is different because of the people.”
Gunn said several students dropped from the class at the beginning, after which the remaining dozen “took on a whole different attitude and air.”
RCC’s BLET program uses numerous lead instructors: Deputy Chief Clint Simpson, Capt. John Edwards, Detective Bill Wade, Officer Brian Ferris, and retired Officer Ron Johnson of the Eden Police Department; Officer Sharra Carter of the Reidsville Police Department; Superior Court Judge Stan Allen; Rockingham County High School teacher Betty Jean Cardwell; Sgt. Lee Johnson and Trooper Wayne Hamilton of the N.C. State Highway Patrol; Sheriff Sam Page, Sgt. John Peters, and retired deputies Dana Taylor and David Martin of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department; retired Rockingham County 911 Director Susan Hall; Assistant Chief Becky Dixon of the Gibsonville Police Department; and Special Agent Kevin Jones of the State Bureau of Investigation.
“It takes an army to put on a BLET class,” Gunn said. While RCC has a slate of lead instructors, the state mandates one instructor for every six students for several specialized topics: firearms, subject control/arrest techniques (S.C.A.T.), physical fitness, hazardous materials, crowd control, and rapid deployment. So Gunn brings in additional instructors for these blocks of training – and goes a step further and brings in one instructor for every 3-4 students when they are at the firing range.
By the last week of the training academy, the students focused on preparing for the 300-question state exam.
“They had to look up their wrong answers in their manuals… that’s one of the best study preps we do,” Gunn said. And likely it is one of the best job preparations the students could do as well.
Of the graduating class, six received job offers from the Eden Police Department, one each from the N.C. State Highway Patrol, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department, and Gibsonville Police Department; the partial student continues with the Reidsville Police Department; and two are looking for jobs.
The next session of BLET will be held Jan. 6-June 14, for four hours each weeknight and eight hours each Saturday.
BLET utilizes state commission-mandated topics and methods of instruction. General subjects include, but are not limited to, criminal, juvenile, civil, traffic, and alcohol beverage laws; investigative, patrol, custody, and court procedures; emergency responses; and ethics and community relations.
Requirements to enroll in the program include being a U.S. citizen, a North Carolina resident, at least 20 years old, furnishing of criminal records search boing back to when the student was 16 years old, sponsorship by a law enforcement agency, completion of a physical examination, possession of a high school diploma or GED, successful passage of the TABE reading comprehension test, and furnishing an unopened copy of a high school transcript.
Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.