CONWAY S.C. (WBTW) — Horry-Georgetown Technical College is hoping to reduce the shortage of police officers in the county with its new police pre-academy training certificate program for newly hired officers.

Candidates in the program will receive training equivalent to the first four weeks of basic law enforcement training at the state criminal justice academy.

Monday was Dean Tamburello’s first day in police pre-academy training, and he hopes to become a police officer for the Horry County Police Department.

“I wanted to be a police officer my whole life, to help out the community that I live in, and make sure that my kids are going to be able to grow up in a safe area, and protect my family,” Tamburello said.

Previousl,y the first four weeks of basic law enforcement training were all done in-house at the Conway and Horry County police departments.

Having it at the college reduces the workload of the law enforcement training instructors, allowing them to get back on the road.

“As a result, their training instructors then can concentrate on other training that they need to handle through the year,” said Dan Wysong, HGTC assistant vice president dean of academics.

Students complete things like driver orientation and other skills needed to prepare them for the state academy.

“Domestic violence, there’s a multitude of different facets of the law enforcement training that they have to go over, that they’re tested on and they have to pass a specific test at the end of each one of the blocks,” said Jeffery Scott, HGTC assistant chair of the Criminal Justice program.

There are five students currently enrolled — three from HCPD and two from Conway.

“Before I wanted to be a police officer I joined the military for two years, so that [helped decide] that this is what I wanted to do in life, and I believed that transitioned very well into becoming a police officer and especially this area because it’s so diverse,” Tamburello said. “You have so many different things you’re going to have to deal with from day to day.”

College officials said that since April when the program hit the ground running, all 15 students have passed the training.

Once they complete the certificate, candidates may seek employment with a city or county law enforcement agency in South Carolina within one year.

After gaining employment, the candidate will be sponsored by the state criminal justice academy for the remaining eight weeks of the basic law enforcement training.

“To alleviate some of the stress that they were going through, as far as having to take people off the road, going to the training areas and having to train the officers, it helps them that way,” Scott said. “It also helps the student prepare.”

Once the candidate satisfies other statewide requirements, like the physical agilities course, and completes basic law enforcement training, the candidate will be a certified law enforcement officer in South Carolina.