First Private Security Academy Begins

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The first-ever Private Security Academy, certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC), is an exciting new program this fall at Washington State Community College (WSCC).


 Private Security Academy students with faculty (from left to right): Academy Commander John Burdette, Academy Instructor Walter Gould, Casey Morris, Mark Michael, Mathais Brown, Matthew Gerhart (class president), Donald Rode, Stephanie Grady, Douglas Unsold, Tommie Schreffler, Sherri Brenneman, Criminal Justice Department Chair Dr. Mollie Jarrell.

The Private Security Academy features 145 hours of state-mandated training and provides graduates with Ohio state certification. Post-graduate employment is available in a variety of careers including: loss control specialists, uniformed and plain clothed security officers, armored car officers, and VIP/dignitary protection. The Academy is also offered as an elective for students in the Criminal Justice associate degree program.

Matt Gerhart, age 40 of Marietta, first heard about the Private Security Academy while exploring options in public safety academies at WSCC. Gerhart previously worked in the Information Technology (IT) field in Florida. After losing employment, he was unable to find any IT jobs due to the recession and high unemployment rate. “I decided to try something different, and began work in the security field; I realized I was much happier, which sparked an interest in criminal justice,” says Gerhart.

Gerhart moved back to Marietta to be with family and returned to college to study criminal justice. He is currently enrolled in the Criminal Justice program with a dual degree focus on Law Enforcement and Corrections, and taking part in the Private Security Academy this fall.

“I thought the Private Security Academy would be a vast addition to my skill set, and open more career opportunities in the future,” says Gerhart, who plans to attend the Peace Officer Academy as well as finish his degree in 2013. “After completing my goals, I plan to pursue a career as a sheriff’s deputy, corrections officer, or security officer,” notes Gerhart, “I really just want to contribute to protecting our community’s people, property, and assets that we rely on every day.”

According to John Burdette, WSCC public safety academies coordinator, “We are thrilled about offering our first ever Private Security Academy. It is yet another segment of the expansion of our public safety academies that now includes Peace Officer, Private Security, Junior Police, Citizens Police, and Firearms academies.”

Burdette notes that inclusion of the Private Security Academy at WSCC is in response to the needs of the security industry, particularly as it pertains to the booming oil and gas industry. The fall Academy started August 24th with classes on Fridays and Saturdays for ten consecutive weeks. There are currently ten students enrolled.

For more information about WSCC’s public safety academies contact John Burdette by phone at 740.374.8716, ext. 1540 or email

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