Close to fifty five students are set to graduate this August from Lake Region State College's summer peace officer academies in Grand Forks and Fargo. The Grand Forks academy commencement ceremony will take place at 11:00 am August 15th in the Empire Arts Center. The Fargo academy commencement ceremony will be held at 11:00 am August 16th in the Festival Concert Hall of the Reineke Fine Arts Center on NDSU campus. Many law enforcement career opportunities currently are available in North Dakota making graduates a vital commodity. In addition, the Peace Officer program has been heavily relied upon to fill open positions due to rapid growth in western North Dakota and to replace a number of officers that will be retiring in the upcoming years, said John Maritato, director of LRSC Peace Officer Training program. With residential academies each fall in Devils Lake, summer commuter academies in Fargo and Grand Forks, and a spring commuter academy in Minot, LRSC works hard to achieve their mission of filling an industry and meeting employer needs in the state. "The number of officers generated from the program has been on a steady incline," he said. "Lake Region State College trained and graduated 92 eligible peace officers in 2011, which is a record." When one takes the number of graduates from the 2012 summer academies and adds the 18 graduates from Minot's spring program, and a large fall class preparing to train soon at the LRSC academy on campus, it will produce another impressive total. Those healthy enrollments in the four academies will help LRSC reach their goal of training 100 police officers a year, Maritato said. Although new to the leadership role directing the Peace Officer Training program, Maritato is no stranger to law enforcement or the LRSC program. One of their own, Maritato graduated from the peace officer training program in December 2000 and enters his new position highly qualified with an extensive background in both education and as a police officer. Maritato was employed with the Devils Lake Police Department for almost 12 years before leaving to take this new position. During his time with the police department, Maritato worked as the school resource officer for eight years and part time at Lake Region State College for three years teaching the introductory class in criminal justice. "To find a position that allows me to combine my passion for law enforcement and education is a perfect fit," said Maritato. "I look forward to watching our students grow and learn throughout the academy. And come graduation day, I anticipate the excitement of seeing the accomplishments they have made knowing they are prepared to start their own careers." The college has conducted a summer academy in Fargo since 2002 with the cooperation of the Fargo Police Department and Cass County Sheriff's Department. A similar partnership between LRSC and the Grand Forks Police Department created a summer academy in Grand Forks in 2010. This past year, the Minot session of the program has taken over the place of the LRSC spring campus-based training program. It was made possible by a partnership between the Ward County Sheriff's Office, Minot Police Department, Minot State University, and Devils Lake-based Lake Region State College. Lake Region State College is the only college in the state of North Dakota authorized to deliver the North Dakota POST Board approved police academy. Successful completion of the program allows graduates to become licensable as peace officers in ND.
Since 1987 Lake Region State College has graduated more than 1,300 students from the Peace Officer Training program with a 100 percent employment rate for those graduates that actively sought employment as police officers or deputy sheriffs in the State of North Dakota. Graduates have been hired by 116 different law enforcement agencies.
Instructors for the Peace Officer Training program include more than 40 law enforcement professionals from 16 different law enforcement agencies in ND.