Every class that graduates from Lincoln University Law Enforcement Training Academy on the Jefferson City campus is historic because it remains the only
HBCU which provides the program and training. The Academy’s fourth class graduated on May 26, 2022 at the Pawley Theatre. The new officers are Miguel Barton of Jefferson City; Marcellis Blackwell of Palos Hills, Ill.; Madison James of Jefferson City; Saleh Lajkem of St. Louis; Benjamin Ofori of Jefferson City; Bradley Richter of Jefferson City; Denisha Taylor of St. Louis; and Keon Woodall of Memphis, Tenn. Lincoln University Police Chief Gary L. Hill told the graduates, “I take my hat off to you.
“We know that you have all enrolled among the noblest of professions,” he said. Hill said he wanted this year’s graduates and those of the previous three classes to bring more than law enforcement to the streets of the communities they could serve. Addressing the graduates, Hill encouraged them to bring peace.
“You are all peacekeepers now,” he said.
“Your responsibility is to bring lasting peace to your communities – to the communities you serve, be the peace.
“It’s not just the diversity of skin colors. It’s diversity of thought,” Hill said. “When you wake up in the morning and put on your badge and gun, make sure the community gets the best version of you every day.”
Since its founding in January 2021, the academy has averaged about nine students per semester, most of whom are African American.
The program is thriving and attracts black students, Hill said, due to the academy’s location on an HBCU campus and its diverse group of instructors.
According to the US Department of Justice in 2020, black Americans made up 12.1% of the country’s 324,882 police officers.
The most common ethnicity is White (64.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (16.8%). Over 83% of US police officers are male and the average age of an employed police officer is 40 years old.
Hill, who is African American, has been in law enforcement for 26 years and the college’s police department chief for five years.
“People tend to go where they’re going to be comfortable or feel welcome, where they see other people who look like them,” Hill says.
“Our goal was to increase the minority footprint within law enforcement in the Missouri area. We had no idea it would be too
big as it turned out to be. We have graduated more minorities from our academy than any of the other 19 academies in the state.
The academy’s 700-hour curriculum includes legal and technical studies, interpersonal perspectives, and skills development. Students also receive 15 hours of college credit in four courses: Police Administration, Criminal Evidence and Procedure, Police Community Relations, and Criminal Justice Practicum.
Founded in 1866 by African-American Civil War veterans, the University of Lincoln offers 50 undergraduate degree programs, as well as master’s programs in education, business, and social sciences. NBC’s TODAY show featured Lincoln University Law Enforcement Academy in June 2021 as part of a series called “Future of the Force” by journalist Craig Melvin.
Innovative Police Academy at Historically Black University Breaks Down Barriers (today.com) For more information, visit https://www.lincolnu.edu/web/police-department/lu-police-academy.