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Basic Peace Officer Training Academy prepares cadets for law enforcement careers

This spring, the Basic Peace Officer Academy run by Pickaway-Ross Adult Education in partnership with Ohio University Chillicothe, welcomed 11 cadets preparing to serve and protect their communities as law enforcement professionals. The academy, which graduated its inaugural class of six cadets in December, provides cadets with the fundamentals necessary for seeking certification and employment as peace officers in Ohio.

Peace Officer Academy cadets represent several different counties in south-central Ohio and bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to the academy. All share a desire to contribute and make a difference in their communities.

Terri Mikesh, who served with the Ohio State Highway Patrol for over 20 years and has taught as an adjunct Law Enforcement Technology faculty member at Ohio University Chillicothe for nearly 20 years, leads the academy.

“Our program is designed to equip these future peace officers with the skills, knowledge, and integrity required to serve and protect our communities with excellence,” Mikesh said. “We give the cadets the training and hands-on experience they need to meet the challenges of modern policing with courage and compassion.”

Chris Green Jr. practices skills with the automated external defibrillator while classmates observe

A transformative ride-along experience in Georgia inspired Chris Green Jr. to seek a law enforcement career. Currently a corrections officer at the Pickaway County Jail, Green said he aspires to become a canine officer and serve as a role model and a beacon of hope for people of color in his hometown of Obetz, Ohio.

Brayden Woodbridge, inspired by his uncle in law enforcement, has long aspired to a career in the field. He began his journey in high school, participating in SkillsUSA for crime scene investigation, and later enrolled in the Law Enforcement Technology program at Hocking College. Recently returning to Ross County to join the Basic Peace Officer Academy, Woodbridge volunteers with the Green Township Fire Department and aims to become a patrol officer after graduation. His ultimate goal is to work in narcotics to combat drug problems in Chillicothe and Ross County.

Taylor Jackson has dreamed of being a police officer since studying criminal justice in high school at age 15. Currently a juvenile detention officer at the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster, she previously served with the Pickaway County Sheriff's Office for six years. After becoming a mother, Jackson momentarily set aside her dream, thinking the profession was too dangerous. This year, with encouragement from a close friend, she applied to the Basic Peace Officer Academy, hoping to be a role model for her daughter. As a single parent, she values the support from her employers and family, who help care for her daughter while she works and attends classes.

“I've had to sacrifice a lot of time with my daughter, but it'll pay off in the end when I'm able to provide a much better life for her and let her see that her mom is strong and she can be strong like her mom and get through anything,” Jackson said.

Jackson hopes to become a detective, focusing on crimes against children and sex crimes, with her ultimate goal being to serve as a U.S. Marshal.

The cadets acknowledge the challenges of juggling classes, full-time jobs, and family obligations but manage with the support of their families, instructors, and employers.

Green balances work, training, and family, aiming to set a good example for his two-year-old son. The cadets also form close bonds as they train together.

“We're really getting to become a family,” said Jackson, noting that classes are not only an opportunity to learn new skills and concepts, but to spend time with new friends.

Mikesh expressed her pride in the cadets and the strong bond they form.

"This academy class is truly a family that supports and encourages each other," Mikesh said.

Green also appreciates the expertise and knowledge that Mikesh and other instructors bring to the academy, noting how they want them to succeed and always encourage the cadets to ask questions.

“The instructors care about us being here and put the effort into teaching us and making us good officers,” Woodbridge, who is excited about how much he is learning as a Basic Peace Officer Academy cadet, said.

The collaboration between Pickaway-Ross Adult Education and Ohio University Chillicothe has proven to be a successful partnership in delivering top-notch training for aspiring law enforcement professionals. Cadets attend classes five evenings each week as part of the 820-hour program. Most of the classes and training take place on the campus of Ohio University Chillicothe, while cadets also participate in physical training at several local high school tracks and practice driving at Pickaway-Ross Career and Technical Center.

“We are proud to partner with Pickaway-Ross Adult Education to offer this much-needed and high-quality program,” said Ohio University Chillicothe Dean of Campus and Community Relations Roberta Milliken. “These cadets are fortunate to have the opportunity to train with Terri Mikesh who is recognized for her comprehensive law enforcement experience and knowledge. The cadets have chosen a noble career path, and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments when they graduate from the academy later this year.”

June 11, 2024
Staff reports