Collaborative launched to expand law enforcement career exploration and education pathways for students
The Tennessee Board of Regents, Mayor John Cooper, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Nashville State Community College today announced a partnership to increase student interest in law enforcement careers through new career exploration opportunities and educational pathways.
The priorities of the new Law Enforcement Collaborative are to help students achieve their career goals, highlight positive engagement opportunities for youth, and help MNPD meet its needs for more trained professionals. The initiative encompasses a broad range of opportunities for students to explore civilian and commissioned officer careers at MNPD and to pursue the education and training they will need to achieve their career choices.
For example, high school students may enroll in dual enrollment courses enabling them to earn college credit in such programs as Criminal Justice, Information Technology, Legal Process, Criminal Investigations, and Law Enforcement, then continue their education and earn an associate degree at Nashville State Community College. Nashville State, with four campuses in Davidson County and online, has already established collaborative programs with MNPD and MNPS – including “Better Together” and “Educate the Blue,” which works with Metro Police Academy. There are also internships and apprenticeships available.
The initiative also highlights positive engagement opportunities for students of all ages that enable them to explore law enforcement careers for civilians and officers. High school students may enroll in MNPD’s Cadet program and Youth Citizens Police Academy. Middle school students may participate in the Police Activities League, summer camps and carnivals, and DARE. For elementary school students, the program highlights Read Me Days, youth camps and other outreach events.
“This is a fantastic partnership that will help create the next generation of public servants protecting our community,” said Mayor John Cooper. “Critical thinkers and problem solvers make great police officers. I’m excited that this innovative program will link our educators with our police leadership so we can effectively train and support future MNPD officers and personnel with the tools for a successful career. I’m also grateful to Dr. Jackson, Dr. Battle and Chief Drake for their leadership in making today’s important partnership a reality.”
MNPD Chief John Drake said, “While we welcome all who want to begin or transition to a law enforcement career in Nashville, we, at the same time, need to demonstrate to students beginning in the elementary years and continuing on through the 12th grade that it’s cool and rewarding to pursue a career in public service in their hometown. One of my fondest memories this year is going to Madison in March to join with other officers in reading to classes of elementary students. They knew we were coming, and many of them even dressed up as police officers. It is that kind of excitement about public service that we want to continue nurturing throughout a student’s school life.”
Although the initiative is launching in Nashville, the Tennessee Board of Regents will use it as a model for similar partnerships among the public community and technical colleges and local law enforcement agencies across the state. In addition, the technical colleges (Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology) are also expanding local correctional officer training programs, including apprenticeships and certifications.
Dr. Adrienne Battle, MNPS Director of Schools, said, “Our goal as a district is to provide a robust set of early post-secondary opportunities for our students so they can be college and career ready on the day they graduate. Providing a pathway for students to have a rewarding career with the Metro Nashville Police Department not only sets them up for success, but also helps to address inequities in policing by having more officers, like Chief Drake, who understand and reflect the communities they serve.”
“I want to thank all the partners who have joined us in this collaborative, with special thanks to the working group of representatives from TBR, MNPD, MNPS and Nashville State who developed this model,” said TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings. “It creates pathways in high school and our colleges to help students achieve their career goals. And it furthers our critical public service mission by helping law enforcement agencies meet their workforce needs.”
"I believe Nashville State's strategic Better Together Partnership with MNPS and Educate the Blue with MNPD creates a natural bridge for the exciting collaborative to start in Nashville,” said Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, President of Nashville State Community College. “Nashville State stands committed to increasing college and career readiness for high school students and being a workforce solution partner with our area employers."
Dr. Jothany Blackwood, TBR Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, is leading the initiative for the college system. “As the Law Enforcement Collaborative expands, TBR will continue to scale up robust opportunities for student engagement, education and training, while meeting the needs of law enforcement agencies statewide. I look forward to the Collaborative serving as the nexus for collaboration and promising practices that engage communities with law enforcement through exploration and careers,” she said.
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 approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.