Press Release                                                                                                                                                                          
March 5, 2021

(By Lisa Garrett)

SC Technical College System and SC Criminal Justice Academy Partner to Create New Career Pathway for Law Enforcement

PENDLETON --- The SC Technical College System and the SC Criminal Justice Academy announced March 2 a partnership that provides a new career pathway for individuals interested in entering law enforcement. 

This pathway, which will be offered this fall at Tri-County Technical College, as well as at the state’s other 15 technical colleges, is based on workforce development.  The Law Enforcement Training Council gave the technical colleges the green light to offer the Police Pre-Academy Training Certificate program in February and the TCTC Commission unanimously approved the program this morning at a special called meeting.

The first classes will be offered in fall 2021.

The four-course certificate program can provide a simple path to becoming a law enforcement officer and was developed in partnership with the SC Criminal Justice Academy.

 “We are excited to partner with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to educate and train the next generation of law enforcement officers,” said SC Technical College President Tim Hardee. “This certificate is a win not just for the individual and law enforcement but for our state and local communities.”

“This is a good example of how technical colleges work with business, industry, and government to respond to a need,” said Tri-County Technical College President Galen DeHay. “There is a shortage of qualified officers across the nation and by increasing their educational levels we can address the industry’s current workforce shortage and enhance the policing profession overall.”

The first step for candidates interested in enrolling in the new Police Pre-Academy Training Certificate is to apply to TCTC and complete the 14-week certificate program. Over the 14 weeks, candidates will learn basic and introductory law enforcement training, tactics, and procedures. In total, they will complete four courses totaling 12 credit hours that can apply toward the 66 credits required to earn an associate degree should candidates decide to further their studies.

Next, candidates secure employment with a South Carolina law enforcement agency within one year. Once employment is secured, candidates must pass a cumulative exam and physical assessment test administered by the SC Criminal Justice Academy. If candidates pass the exam and physical assessment test, they complete an eight-week training program at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia.

Once these steps are complete, candidates are ready to begin their career as a certified law enforcement officer in South Carolina.

Over the past year, a criminal justice work group comprised of criminal justice faculty representatives from Greenville, Horry-Georgetown, Orangeburg-Calhoun, TCTC and Trident technical colleges teamed with SC Criminal Justice Academy Director Jackie Swindler to design a certified statewide law enforcement certificate.

The curriculum will prepare individuals to work in the diverse and multicultural communities they will serve. By increasing their educational level, they can develop creative problem-solving skills and therefore relate better to their communities.  

A major benefit of the pathway is its affordability.  Candidates are eligible to receive Lottery Tuition Assistance and SC WINS scholarships, which cover 100% of all tuition costs.

Swindler added that this important collaboration can contribute to individuals being better prepared academically, which can increase the success rates and the graduation rates at the Criminal Justice Academy.

Agencies today are stru ggling to find and recruit officers, Swindler said.

“There is a need to find great candidates to enter this profession. We are excited to see the fruits of our labor,” he said.

The four-week class will produce candidates who are both academically and physically ready for the Criminal Justice Academy, said Swindler.

Statistics show 33% of those hired and trained in law enforcement vacated those jobs in 2020, said Swindler. “There has been constant turnover,” he said, referencing the impact of COVID-19 as well as civil unrest.

“Law enforcement is a difficult job but it’s a very important job.  It’s critical that we find the right people and train them properly,” said Swindler. “This program is a win for the state of South Carolina.”

For more information or for entry requirements,



About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit