Thirty Years of Training to Protect and Serve: The 30th Anniversary Of Cleveland State’s Law Enforcement Training Academy

Thirty Years of Training to Protect and Serve: The 30th Anniversary Of Cleveland State’s Law Enforcement Training Academy

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 12:00 AM

For 30 years, Cleveland State Community College has been home to the future of law enforcement across the Tennessee Valley. 2020 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Training program at Cleveland State Community College.

From the day it first opened its doors in the fall of 1990 to the current 79th class of cadets enrolled to receive its law enforcement training at the college, trained professionals in this field have remained in high demand.

Approximately 2,000 students have graduated from the academy and gone on to careers protecting the public. When the college saw the need in the communities across the region for skilled officers, the Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) program was born. Graduates have gone on to be local sheriffs, police chiefs, and agents at the state and federal level.

The current Chief of Police in the City of Cleveland, Mark Gibson, is a graduate of the Spring 1997 academy class. “For the last 30 years, the Cleveland State Law Enforcement Training Academy has trained some of the greatest men and women to serve the great State of Tennessee,” said Gibson. “Law enforcement and the City of Cleveland are fortunate to have a training center of this caliber in our community.”

While LETA graduates have go down countless career paths through the years, they all have a similar characteristic.

“People drawn to law enforcement desire a challenging, rewarding, and noble career in public service,” said Mike Hodges, Director of the LETA at Cleveland State. “This program is a tremendous benefit to all law enforcement agencies in our service areas as well as the state.”

Since the first class of 24 graduates, the LETA has graduated between 25 and 35 cadets with each class. According to Hodges, that number has started growing in recent years.

Unlike other training academies, CSCC’s LETA allows anyone interested in law enforcement to undergo training. This allows officers-in-training from local agencies to learn alongside students who haven’t even applied for a law enforcement-related position.

Once students successfully pass through the 12-week program, they go into the workforce and are ready to work. However, getting through the program is no easy task.

According to Hodges, the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) mandate has increased the hours of training required for officers. To ensure CSCC graduates are well prepared, the LETA has even higher standards, requiring students to go through more than the mandatory 480 instruction hours.

In those classes, students learn about a wide variety of topics, ranging from firearm and emergency vehicle operations to defensive tactics and physical fitness to domestic violence and D.U.I. investigation.

Of course, Cleveland State doesn’t just hope they serve their students and local agencies well. They constantly reach out to stakeholders, asking how graduates fare in the real world. New technology and class offerings are often implemented to provide an educational experience that mimics what law enforcement deals with each day on the job.

“The base knowledge that cadets receive here is a springboard for their careers,” Hodges said. “We’re in a privileged position to help train future generations of law enforcement officers, and we look forward to continuing to do so for the next 30 years.”

To learn more about how you can start a career in law enforcement, contact the Law Enforcement Training Academy at Cleveland State Community College by calling (423) 473-2439. The next academy starts on May 18, and the application deadline is April 22. You can also visit the college online at

CSCC is the Tennessee Board of Regents current College of the Year. CSCC directly serves the people of Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk Counties in Tennessee. The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving more than 110,000 students.


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