Butler Tech police academy honored as among the best by Ohio attorney general

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost spoke to cadets and honored Butler Tech Police Academy as a STAR Academy Thursday, March 17, 2022. The designation of a STAR Academy is for agencies that are continuously raising the bar, have achieved a higher professional standard of excellence among law enforcement approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost spoke to cadets and honored Butler Tech Police Academy as a STAR Academy Thursday, March 17, 2022. The designation of a STAR Academy is for agencies that are continuously raising the bar, have achieved a higher professional standard of excellence among law enforcement approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

FAIRFIELD TWP. — Ohio’s top law enforcement officer visited Butler Tech on Thursday to award the career school as one of the state’s best in requiring high standards for students training to become police officers.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost came to Butler Tech’s Police Academy to designate the adult career school as one of the first in the state to earn a STAR Academy status for its higher training and certification standards for students.

The STAR Academy program was created by Yost’s office last year in partnership with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to help improve the preparation of those entering law enforcement careers.

“The whole idea behind the STAR Academy is to recognize the people who do well,” Yost told Butler Tech officials during a short, on-campus ceremony.

“There are about 50 (police) academies scattered around the state and some of them are robust and do a great job. And some of them … maybe don’t do the best job. So, I challenged my staff on how to recognize the places that do it right?”

“I’m pleased that Butler Tech is one of those programs,” said Yost, who presented a STAR Academy plaque to school officials.

“Well done and congratulations.”

The Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission licenses basic training academies throughout the state, requiring 737 total hours of training, according to a statement from Yost’s office.

“Academies recognized by the STAR Program must meet at least a dozen extra criteria, which were established by a seven-member peer board.”

Among the extra measures, a STAR academy is asked to also: Ensure that 85% of cadets eligible to take the State Certification Exam pass it and must conduct periodic academic assessments – no fewer than four – to gauge the cadet’s retention of student performance objectives.

Moreover, qualified academies must also “provide training above minimum hours in three or more high-risk topics, for at least 15 cumulative hours and maintain or pursue the use of tech training/exposure for students, such as body cameras.”

A.J. Huff, spokeswoman for Butler Tech, said the school’s police training, which began training adults for police work at its Liberty Twp. campus in 1977, was already operating under the higher standards.

“Most of our students go on directly into a police department from here. Once the Attorney General created the STAR Academy we had an opportunity to apply and we already surpass a lot of the typical state requirements,” said Huff of the program, which currently has about 80 adult students.

As an applicant career school, Butler Tech supplied student and graduate data to Attorney General’s office for review.

“Then they decided we should earn the designation of a STAR Academy.

Police Academy student Kristen Bernecker was already happy with the training she was receiving from Butler Tech and now even more so given the program has been recognized for its higher standards as one of Ohio’s so far few, new STAR academies.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot here … and they (instructors) are good about explaining everything,” said the 26-year-old Bernecker, who plans to apply for a police officer’s position locally once she graduates in about two months.

According to AG officials, the STAR Academy requirements will provide “extra measures to help better prepare officers, making them even more effective in serving and protecting their communities.”

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this story.

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