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Veteran Finds New Path with Peace Officer Basic Training

NEWARK, Ohio, Nov. 1, 2018 George Clark isn't your typical cadet in Central Ohio Technical College's (COTC) Peace Officer Basic Training (POBT)​ academy. This 46-year-old army veteran just completed the academy as part of the law enforcement technology degree program and is awaiting the state peace officer examination this month.

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Clark was a combat medic in the U.S. Army from 2008 to 2014. He was stationed in Italy with two deployments to Afghanistan where he received two combat medic badges. Once his service was complete, George was left with a void to fill. That's when he discovered COTC.


"I met Commander Sowards. I was really impressed that the commander of the program was willing to sit down and answer any questions that I had. I had a lot of hard questions — why I would want to go to your academy, what's great about your instructors — and he had a lot of really great answers," said Clark. He enrolled in autumn 2017.

The instructors have exceeded Clark's expectations. "They're truly teachers. They treat you with respect. I've gotten to know all of them really well, which I think is unheard of."

But he also questioned himself. He wondered if he was smart enough to participate in a classroom of millennials, or if he had the patience. Fitting in, he admits, was tough at first. He was determined to be just another student, to hear their thoughts and participate in the classroom as equals.

"As a non-traditional student this 'gentleman warrior' brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the classroom and laboratory that is intelligent, enlightening and often times humorous to both student and teacher," said Associate Professor Mark Prince, BCJ, M.Ed. "He is well received by all who meet him."

Enrolling at COTC was seamless, said Clark. He thought using his G.I. Bill benefits would be difficult, a commonly held belief by veterans. He found that the opposite was true, but he has faced other challenges: the academic challenge of going back to school after more than 20 years; the physical challenge of fitness tests required for Ohio peace officers; the social challenge of relating to students half his age. He had to learn how to be a student, something he learned from his classmates.

"I'm learning about myself through this program. I don't want it to be over. It's fun," said Clark when considering graduation. "I'm looking forward to the achievement because it wasn't a sure thing."

COTC, with The Ohio State University at Newark, will honor veterans on Friday, Nov. 9 by participating in the Remembrance Day National Roll Call. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Martha Grace Reese Amphitheatre, volunteers from both institutions will read names of fallen soldiers followed by a moment of silence.

The POBT program prepares students to meet the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. Graduates are recommended to take the state certification examination to become a peace officer in Ohio. Graduates' scores on the exam ranked second in the state among open enrollment academies and fifth overall according to a 2016 report by the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Graduates also earn 22.5 credits toward an Associate of Applied Science in Law Enforcement Technology. Information sessions will be held at COTC's Newark campus in Hopewell Hall room 53 on the following dates:

  • Monday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 8 at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.

To register for an information session or learn more about COTC's POBT program, visit cotc.edu/POBT or contact Commander Jeff Sowards at sowards.16@cotc.edu.

Veterans interested in enrolling at COTC can review a quick start guide online or contact COTC's school certifying official, Misty Amacher, at 740.366.9459 or amacher.1@cotc.edu for more information.

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala. ​​