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SPRING LAKE – Fayetteville Technical Community College continues to expand its footprint across Cumberland County as it held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Law Enforcement & Emergency Management Training Center in Spring Lake Monday.

The center, located at 108 McKenzie Road, serves multiple purposes. It’s the site for individuals seeking to become law enforcement officers through the college’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Academy. Also, currently sworn officers can maintain their certifications at the center through the Law Enforcement Training (LET) program.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to gain this property and convert it to this purpose,” said FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen. “It’s a great opportunity to do a lot of things that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of educational training.”

Ribbon Cutting

Representatives from local law enforcement agencies such as Spring Lake police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office attended the anticipated dedication alongside current BLET cadets. FTCC’s Board of Trustees members, faculty and staff, fellow deans, BLET Program Coordinator Yovana Vest and more, joined them.

After the ribbon cutting, guest toured the 16,355 square-foot facility, formerly a children’s daycare.  The facility has two dedicated LET classrooms, a Milo Shooting Simulator and a state-of-the-art L3 Driving Simulator – the third one in the state of North Carolina. The building also contains a training room where cadets practice, for example, the proper way to subdue and arrest a suspect. The center also has a mock courtroom with jury seating, a judge’s bench and holding cell. Cadets have the opportunity to practice bailiff duties, testifying and other courtroom etiquette. Lounge areas and an exercise room are also in the new center.

FTCC’s Board of Trustees approved purchasing the center and necessary renovations in February.

“It’s the face of law enforcement for Continuing Education and Curriculum,” FTCC’s Dean of Public Service Linda Novak said. “We are a one-stop shop for Cumberland County and surrounding counties.”

Currently, 33 students are in FTCC’s BLET day and night academies.

“What this new building means to the future of law enforcement is quality training with the latest technology and comradery between several different agencies,” Vest said. “I foresee a lot of great training in the future of our law enforcement community.”

One of those training at the center is Cherwonna Walker. The mother of a young daughter works for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. She enrolled in the BLET program in August. Prior, she worked as an office assistant in the Cumberland County Department of Social Services.

“I really love helping people and giving back to the community,” she said. “And it’s not just about officer safety, but public safety.”

Handcuffing suspect

Walker hopes BLET programs similar to FTCC will help shape a positive view of law enforcement in communities. She has seen a fraction of that. Children in neighborhoods near the center have joined Walker and her colleagues as they run, part of their physical training requirement.

“They see us in a positive light,” she added. “I feel like this is home, a comfortable environment. I’m enjoying this process and learning a lot about myself.”

The center also includes meeting rooms open to the public, neighboring law enforcement and emergency management departments. Keen noted those rooms will allow FTCC to “work even more intimately with the law enforcement community.” Vest reiterated the center would be a home for any law enforcement officer in North Carolina.

“No matter what agency you come from,” she continued. “Here, we are brothers and sisters in blue.”