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Sun, July 21

College provides home-grown police, safety officials

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Growing up in Prescott, Amy Bonney knew she wanted to be a police officer some day.

At Prescott High School, she participated in the local police explorer program that included accompanying officers in a patrol car.

After her graduation in 1994, she earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and Spanish at Northern Arizona University. However, she still wasn't ready to serve and protect.

That's when she returned to her hometown, where the Prescott Police Department hired her and sponsored her certification through Yavapai College's Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy (NARTA) here.

"It's really awesome," she said of the training and camaraderie during her NARTA studies.

Bonney, a Prescott native, chose law enforcement because it allows her to practice the community-based policing she enjoys. Training at the academy was a rewarding, yet difficult, experience. As one of only four female cadets there, she felt pressure to excel.

"I did have to prove myself," she said, "and rightly so."

Now she continues to meet the test on the job every day. But she enjoys it, because being able to serve the community where she grew up is one of the rewards of being a Prescott police officer.

Bonney is one of the more than 1,200 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel Yavapai College trained in the past decade. Its programs let people prepare locally for quality careers in public service.

NARTA reaches out across the state, too, helping train recruits from smaller law enforcement departments. The program is one of those growing rapidly at the Prescott Valley campus.

That's why officials have included about $3.7 million in the college master plan to expand training for NARTA, MVD specialty officer training, ADOT highway technologies program, Arizona peace officer training, emergency services certifications, adult probation and detention officer training, as well as administration of justice degree program requirements.

That chunk of bond money also would build a 17,000-square foot business and technical training center. A computer commons would help students taking skill training, certification and degree programs.

Also, the center would provide new classrooms to expand the manufacturing academy and assure that training methods are keeping pace with industry standards. A public policy institute and training for local boards and commissions are also on the Prescott Valley bond referendum list.

Other master plan projects include a $25,000 obstacle course for public services training and $824,000 for landscaping and parking.

In all, college officials propose to spend $5.8 million within five years on the Prescott Valley campus. They expect 900 students to enroll at the business and career center, 1,500 in the new business and technical training center and 450 for the obstacle course.

The Prescott Valley expansion is only one of several across the college district, which covers the entire county.

"There are people in a number of small communities that need to be served and don't necessarily want to have their tax dollars pay for something centralized in Prescott that they don't have easy access to," said John Coomer, college advancement director.

"By creating specialty centers in Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Sedona, and eventually on the Highway 89 corridor, we're able to serve the general education needs of those communities and help people find high-paying jobs," he said.

(Next time: Improving life in the Corridor: A college site of their own.)


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