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Center establishes new peace officer academy for those interested in law enforcement

Written by Sharla Bardin for 19th St. Magazine, October 2020


Serving others is a way of life for Wally Kelly, from his time spent in the military to his church ministry.

“I feel called to serve,” Kelly said. “I feel called to serve this community.”

That commitment to assisting others is one of the reasons Kelly enrolled in the new Basic Peace Officer Certification Academy at Moore Norman Technology Center.

The academy, which started this year, is open to adults 21 and older who want to pursue a career in law enforcement, security or corrections.

The program meets the mandated basic peace officer requirements from the state’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. In addition, students also receive training in ethics, report writing, legal matters, community and human relations, firearm training, First Aid and CPR, law enforcement driver training and patrol and criminal investigation.

"The new program provides another avenue for individuals to pursue careers as peace officers," said Jerry McConnell, director of the new program and director of campus safety and security.

"A recent change in state legislation opened up opportunities for technology centers to offer the certification, and Moore Norman Technology Center is the first to provide the program," McConnell said.

"In previous years, those interested in law enforcement were hired by an agency and then sent to an academy for training. Now, individuals can receive the training first, which can help enhance their job opportunities when they apply to agencies or municipalities," McConnell said.

McConnell said his goals for the academy include “100 percent placement in a job” for students and a broad understanding of their position in an agency or municipality.

“I want to turn out ethical and moral officers,” he said. “I want to make sure they understand their roles in society.”

He also said he envisions that the center’s academy will become “a destination training location” and a program that can assist area agencies with hiring and training needs.

“I’ve got sheriffs and chiefs from all over the state calling me and asking about our program,” McConnell said.

The academy is four months long, and classes are at the center’s Franklin Road campus. Individuals interested in enrolling in next year’s program must first attend a free orientation meeting. Upcoming meetings will be offered at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 and 10 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Franklin Road campus at 4701 12th Ave. Northwest in Norman.

Kelly, of Purcell, enrolled in the academy because of his interest in working in law enforcement either as a chaplain or as a peace officer. He also is a reserve deputy with the McClain County Sheriff’s Office and has served as a chaplain with a fire department.

He said he also was interested in the academy because of the accessibility and affordability. Kelly receives a discount on the tuition because of his service in the Army and he appreciates that the class schedule gives him time for his family and ministry. He is a longtime pastor and now serves at The Church at Norman, a newly established church.

Kelly said he is learning valuable skills and training from the academy and believes it will prove to be “a good program for the future of law enforcement in our state.”

No matter what job he pursues in law enforcement after the academy, Kelly said his goals are to protect, support, serve and help make a positive difference in peoples’ lives.

“I’d like to go to work in an agency where I can make meaningful change in the community,” he said.