This spring, 12 students started Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) classes through Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center.
Five months and 700 grueling hours of instruction later, only three were still around.
Franklin-resident Tim Broughton, Kyle Efird of Whittier, and Jon Garner of Cullowhee all credited tough training experiences in their respective backgrounds with helping them survive BLET. All three passed their BLET state examinations and graduated as the program’s 70th class in a ceremony at the Public Safety Training Center.
Making it to the end wasn’t easy.
“I can tell you this: I’d rather go back to basic training than go through BLET again,” said Garner, a 21-year-old Iraq War veteran who underwent basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
This was Garner’s third attempt to complete BLET. His first try got cut short when he received papers to go to basic training. Shortly after he started the program last year, a shoulder separation forced him out again.
So sharing graduation day with his wife, Destiny Garner, and her family was particularly gratifying. Just the week before, he had an interview with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department.
“Being able to complete it this time made me feel good about myself,” he said. “The instructors really pushed me and made me strive for everything I accomplished. It’s a special thing.”
Like Garner, Efird found that a military background was good preparation for BLET. Efird spent six years in the Army and was twice deployed to Iraq.
He also served in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake struck that island nation. Efird was joined at the graduation ceremony by his wife, Nichole, and their threeyear- old triplets: Silas, Jessa and Ava.
“The training was very good and realistic,” said Efird, 29, who’s already been hired by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. “It prepared us all well for the state test, and I’ll soon find out how well I’m prepared for this job. The instructors at SCC held us to a higher standard, and I like that.”
For Broughton, completing SCC’s Criminal Justice and Latent Evidence program helped prepare him for the rigors of BLET.
The 22-year-old hopes to become an investigator and is currently seeking employment with a law enforcement agency.
“The instructor quality at SCC was very good,” he said.
“They all knew exactly what they’re talking about.”
All three graduates impressed Curtis Dowdle, SCC’s dean of public safety training.
“The fact these BLET graduates were focused on the mission of successfully completing training when so many others made the choice not to continue says a lot about the character and tenacity of these individuals,” Dowdle said. “To deliver this training, the support of SCC's administration, family members and the law enforcement community is imperative and represents SCC's commitment to our students and the communities we serve.”