In light of recent officer-involved incidents, the spotlight now shines on law enforcement officers use of force in confrontations on the street. Professor Leatha Cyprian teaches Police Officer Survival classes at Columbus Technical College.
“Once students take the class, they carry the information to the other classes, and they’ll say we learned this in Mrs. C’s class,” Cyprian said. “And you lose weight and you learn drills, and then I have confidence.”
Cyprian, who is also a reserve deputy with the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, takes a hands-on approach to teaching because she feels it better prepares students or anyone looking to go into law enforcement. Her extensive connections with law enforcement agencies across the Chattahoochee Valley afford her students many opportunities to complete internships, externships or even become full-time employees.
Chatthoochee County High School and Spencer High School have a dual-enrollment program that allows high school students to take Cyprian’s officer survival class. Chatt. Co. senior Ikeriah Steward dual-enrolls at Columbus Tech. She says Cyprian’s class leans her towards pursuing a career in criminal justice.
“I learned how to do the punches and the kicks and there’s two ways you can kick,” Steward said. “You can cross and kick or you can slide and kick. Just as long as you connect with their stomach.”
Walton Smith will graduate from Columbus Tech in January. The officer survival class teaches him more than just proper technique.
“In this class, I learn all the hands-on technique that’s required to be a productive officer and a professional officer, even ethics,” Smith said.
Smith and Kendra Feagan help teach students in the class. They support younger students exposure to the class so they adopt and evolve muscle memory involving a lot of the skills law enforcement officers use on a daily basis. The class also can help them decide what they want to pursue in the future. Most students agree, though, Professor Cyprian’s methods go a long way in keeping them interested and focused.
“The students learning everything they can in theory and practicum, it shows that more than likely that someone who knows all this stuff, they’ll more than likely follow policies and procedures,” Cyprian said. “And everything will work out.”
Cyprian notes that enrollment for the class has increased. She says anyone can take the officer survival class, and it costs about $400.