By Tanner Willis
The Panhandle Regional Law Enforcement Academy was founded in 1968. The first graduating class had nine recruits.
More than 40 years later, the academy is on its 104th class and maintains a class average of 22 recruits.
The PRLEA operates under the Amarillo College criminal justice department and is one of only two police academies in the Texas Panhandle.
It is offered twice a year and has both day and night classes. The program currently has 23 recruits.
This class began in October and will graduate in March.
The first semester consists mainly of learning the laws, while the second semester focuses more on field work.
“The recruits will learn everything from Texas penal codes to firearms and use of deadly force,” said Alex Chancia, director of the program.
The PRLEA works with the Amarillo Police Department and the sheriff’s departments of Potter and Randall counties along with other agencies.
Students get hands-on experience in facilities such as the APD firearms range and Rick Husband International Airport.
Recruits use the runways at the airport to practice defensive and offensive driving in squad cars.
Each class has a chain of command similar to that of an actual police station. At the top is the class leader.
Should there be any problems, recruits are to bring them to the class leader, who will try to resolve the issue before taking it to an instructor or other higher authority.
This year’s class leader is Max White.
“The first part of the year is mainly learning penal code and pretty boring, but I can’t wait until the second semester,” White said.
He said he hopes to join a police department in South Texas.
The academy has several requirements for applicants. A student must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and be a high school graduate or have 12 semester hours of credit from an accredited college or university.
Other requirements can be found in the Texas Administration Code, Title 37, Part 7, Chapter 215.
Published: Wednesday, November 03, 2011