BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Cadets from all over Mississippi will be spending the next 11 weeks in Biloxi. As they prepare for a career in law enforcement, the Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Academy hopes to start these new officers out on the right foot.
For academy training officer Emma Baptiste, this 11-week course is important to the development of the students.
“To be their full potential. To see where their weakness is and then to surpass that. We push them to their limits and we want them to understand that we’re going to be there to push them further than that and say you know what, I can do that and I can be the best at it," Baptiste said.
Baptiste is no stranger to what it takes to be successful in the program.
“I enjoy to train. I’ve been doing training since 2010 with the academy. It is a passion of mine that I wish to see our future officers that are coming to assist our communities, to be the best," Baptiste said.
The training, according to program director Maj. Louis Elias, is designed to put real stress on each of the cadets in a controlled environment in an effort to expose weakness. This way those weaknesses don’t become an issue in a real environment.
For cadet Amy May just the first day has already been intense.
“You gotta tough it out because it will all be worth it in the end. I’m here because I’ve always had a passion to go into law enforcement to do what I love and protect others," May said.
Gulfport Police Officer McKinley West is also a participant. Having already been hired on as a police officer doesn’t change his level of focus.
“It’s challenging right now. There’s a lot of different activities going on and they’re playing mind games. It’s very challenging right now. Just trying to stay focused and finish," West said.
Coming from a family of law enforcement, West new at an early age what would help him succeed in a difficult career field.
“Being prepared. You know, helping people and helping myself first and foremost and servicing the community of Gulfport and the Harrison County community," West said.
For Baptiste, knowing that she has helped these young cadets makes it all worthwhile for her.
“When they can sit back and see why I or any of the other instructors did what we did to them and they can see the purpose and the value in it after the fact. Obviously, in the time they’re like oh my gosh. Then they realize, that is why she did that. It’s all about a lesson. That’s what I try to instill. Everything has a purpose. You will see that purpose the day you graduate, sometimes three years later. We get those phone calls that say thank you," Baptiste told WLOX.