JUNE 28, 2006

HOME

Four Redlands graduates serving together on Clinton police force

There’s often a deep camaraderie between individuals who have graduated from the same college, whether they knew each other during their college years or not. This sense of camaraderie is personified by the four Redlands Community College alumni who serve as officers with the Clinton Police Department.

Laura Adkins, a 2001 graduate, Richard Staton, a 2005 graduate, and Barrett Storm, a 2005 graduate, all serve as officers for the Clinton Police Department. Damon Stewart, a 1997 graduate, serves as a Sergeant for the Clinton department.

Adkins, Staton, Stewart, and Storm each graduated with an Associate of Applied Science Degree through RCC’s Collegiate Officer Program (COPS). RCC’s COPS program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement as Certified Police Officers in Oklahoma. The program was designed in conjunction with the Council on Law Enforcement and Education (CLEET) to provide students with an alternative means to become a police officer. Graduates of RCC’s COPS program are eligible to take the certification test for employment as a police officer in Oklahoma as soon as they are hired by a law enforcement agency.

Ed Smith, Clinton Chief of Police, believes that RCC COPS program is beneficial to students and to potential employers. His belief in RCC graduates is demonstrated not only by words, but by action as well – four of the 18 sworn officers in the Clinton Police Department are RCC graduates.

“I know when I hire Redlands graduates I’m probably getting the best trained COPS students that are available. They are learning from experienced instructors who provide outstanding learning experiences in the classroom,” Smith said. “I also enjoy having COPS employees because it gives me a chance to not have to send them to CLEET for nine weeks. We hire COPS graduates, get them into our training program, and have them on the street working for us in 16 weeks or less, which is a huge benefit for everyone.”

Stewart is quick to agree that RCC’s COPS program is highly beneficial.

“Redlands’ COPS program is very valuable and important, both for students and for employers. The program really gives you a chance to get on with an agency because you get a college education and CLEET certification,” Stewart said. “A lot of times the smaller departments in the smaller towns can’t afford to hire employees without experience, so COPS graduates are at a definite advantage, which really helps in the job market.”

Although each of the four RCC alumni knew that they were interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement from a very young age, each took a slightly different path along the way to the Clinton Police Department. The four alumni, however, agree that RCC was instrumental in helping them achieve their goals.

“While I joined the Navy straight out of high school and served in the first gulf war, I always knew that I want to be a police officer. That’s why I came back to this area after I finished my military service,” Stewart said. “College was a great experience for me! I was hungry for knowledge and I wanted to soak up as much as possible from experienced instructors; I learned so much when I was in college and that’s a large part of what made Redlands so enjoyable for me.”

For Storm, it was a positive experience with law enforcement at an early age, coupled with growing up with a father who worked in the field that fueled his desire to become a police officer.

“When I was 15 years old, I went on my very first ride-along with the Moore Police Department. That evening, we had a huge drug bust and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said Storm. “Redlands really was a good place for me to start out – I wasn’t ready for a large school and I found that everyone there (at RCC) was more than willing to work with me and help me reach my goals.”

Storm’s father, Bruce Storm, currently serves as RCC’s Criminal Justice Coordinator, and Staton credits Bruce Storm for helping him succeed in the classroom. Prior to working at RCC, Bruce Storm served as Chief of Police in Moore, which Staton believes is highly beneficial to COPS students.

“Having a former chief as an instructor at Redlands was amazing. Bruce (Storm) was able to give us first-hand stories and input and then help us apply these lessons with hands-on experiences,” Staton said. “When I was in college, I worked two jobs, so my schedule was a little hectic. Bruce always was more than happy to work with me, both in and out of the classroom, as long as I did my part, so that I could work and continue my education at the same time.”

The four alumni agree that it wasn’t just the positive experiences with faculty and staff members that made their experiences at RCC beneficial. Adkins readily recommends RCC’s program to potential students because of her experiences as an RCC COPS student.

“At Redlands, the instructors really know who you are and you develop a bond with them. This bond helps provide more personal attention in the classroom because they take the time to get to know you,” Adkins said. “With such great instructors in an outstanding program, you get the best possible education. It sticks with you when you have such a good experience; I always recommend Redlands to others because I want them to have the same great experience that I had.”

For more information regarding RCC’s COPS program, contact Bruce Storm at 405.262.2552, ext. 2306.