Ernst Promotes Success Of Police Academy

Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy Commander Mark Ernst talks to St. Marys Rotarians on Wednesday about the progress the Wright State University — Lake Campus police academy program has made over the years.
Managing Editor

Former St. Marys Police Chief and current Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy Commander Mark Ernst talked to St. Marys Rotarians on Wednesday about the success of the police academy at Wright State University — Lake Campus.

Ernst was with the St. Marys Police Department for 27 years, serving as a patrolman, spent eight years on the Grand Lake Drug Task Force, a road sergeant, on the bike patrol, a polygraph examiner and was named police chief on Dec. 12, 2013 before retiring from the department Aug. 20, 2017.

Since taking over, Ernst said he wanted to upgrade the program’s curriculum to relate more to the current issues police officers experience.

A component for probation and parole was added to the program’s curriculum with the push to reduce jail populations and use programs such as community corrections to get people out of jail and contributing back in the communities. Cyber crime and a terrorism class were also added to the curriculum.

The additions to the program have helped keep students enrolled.

In previous years, Ernst said only 20 percent of students who entered the program stayed with it, with the other 80 percent either dropping out or going somewhere else. Currently, enrollment in the program has increased by 37 percent.

“There wasn’t as much care and service given to the students and we changed that and want them to know that we care about them,” Ernst said. “We also want to produce good criminal justice professionals and we want to do anything we can to help them moving forward.”

The Lake Campus offers three degrees; a general law enforcement associate degree, an associate degree that incorporates both the police academy and a student’s academics and a bachelor’s degree with both the police academy and academics incorporated.

Ernst said the associate degree that incorporates academics and the police academy is the school’s most popular choice. 

Students spend their first year in academics, their second year in the police academy and when their degree is complete, students will be closer to being 21 with both their degree and police officer certification. 

The bachelor’s degree program is where students save up all their electives for the final year of school with three years of academics and the fourth year in the academy. 

To read the full story, see Thursday's print edition of The Evening Leader.