Shawnee Mission to create police, fire training program for students

By David Twiddy
Kansas City Star – November 24, 2015

The Shawnee Mission School District is looking to help area law enforcement agencies and fire departments fill their vacancies by offering training to interested high school students.

During the district school board’s monthly meeting Monday, John Douglass, the district’s director of emergency services, announced the early planning stages of a signature public safety program. A law enforcement component would begin in January 2017 while a fire/emergency medical technician component would begin in January 2018, although those dates are subject to change.

Superintendent Jim Hinson said the program came about earlier this fall after he was approached by Lenexa city officials about the difficulty they and other cities in Johnson County are having finding enough applicants to fill spots in their police and fire departments.

Given that the district already has professional preparation programs for culinary services and biotechnology, the proposed program could create a pipeline of graduates ready to move to the next level of emergency training, Hinson said.

“It’s going to be a brand-new approach for us,” Hinson said after the meeting. “A part of the mission that we’re on is to address the needs that exist from the employers and, in this case, our cities are one of our employers.”

Douglass said he had no indication how many students would sign up for the program, which will likely be taught at the future Center for Academic Achievement under construction at 8200 W. 71st St. in Overland Park.

“A lot of it will depend on how we spell it out and market it,” Douglass said. “Right now, there is so much media coverage on police work that there is somewhat of a downturn. But I think if we offer it up as a very ethical and straightforward profession and opportunity to make a difference, I believe we will get a quantity and quality of applicants.”

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