If you want to become a lawyer, you will first have to graduate with a four-year college degree, go to an accredited law school for three years and graduate, and then pass the bar exam. If you wanted to become a licensed medical doctor, you would have to get a four-year degree, then go to medical school forever (sarcasm), then residency, then… you get the picture. So, why can you make arrests as a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina before completing the sheriff’s law enforcement training program?
In every other law enforcement agency (municipal, company police, and state) within the state of North Carolina, you must successfully complete a rigorous training process that includes classroom instruction, hands-on training, driver training, etc. And at the end of months of training, you must pass a comprehensive exam on everything you have learned during your time in the academy. You must successfully complete all of this before you can even ride with a field training officer (FTO). Then, you must satisfactorily complete the agency’s field-training program before you can ride by yourself and protect the citizens in the community you serve.
North Carolina is the only state in America that still exempts sheriff’s deputies from this process. The reason may very well be that the sheriff’s have their own commission that oversees all training and certification of their deputies. Other law enforcement agencies within the state of North Carolina have their own as well. But those other agencies, do not allow any arrests to be made until their officer or trooper have completed ALL the necessary requirements to become sworn after training.
I worked in a North Carolina municipal law enforcement agency for close to 20 years. I can’t imagine my old chief swearing me in, then allowing me to make arrests, all before completing all training requirements. I believe there is too much liability without the proper and necessary training all law enforcement officers need to serve and protect.
Not all individuals you place under arrest will comply. I know from experience. When I went through Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) many years ago, a few training classes come to mind: laws of arrest and search and seizure, and defensive tactics. These are two very important classes (amongst many others) a cadet must satisfactorily complete during their training with proficiency.
Mandy Locke, a reporter for the News & Observer, reported on July 4 of this year that the legislators “have pushed for more consistency between the commissions in recent years.” She also stated that, “As part of a massive criminal justice reform package passed last year, lawmakers ordered the two law enforcement commissions to square away any differences in their minimum standards to enter the law enforcement profession.”
This is a good start and well overdue. I believe that when, not if, the two commissions merge into one, there will be more accountability and less liability. This will make North Carolina law enforcement better across the board.