For 27 years, the Vantage Career Center Police Academy has been dedicated to training local law enforcement, while bridging relationships between academy participants, their communities, and law enforcement agencies. Van Wert and surrounding counties have been enriched by the successful program, and in many ways, our local law enforcement can be called life long friends of the community.
Officer Bryon Wells, Van Wert Police Department, speaks to Vantage staff about Theoretical Training during a staff professional development session prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Officer Wells is a 1999 Vantage Manufacturing Engineering Technology program graduate and a 2003 Vantage Police Academy graduate.
Officer Bryon Wells of the Van Wert Police Department knew he wanted to go into law enforcement at a young age. “When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I immediately thought of a cop.” Wells continued, “I shadowed Officer Greg Blackmore in seventh grade, and I had a full-circle moment when I became his replacement for the DARE program upon his retirement.”
Wells is a 2003 Vantage Police Academy graduate. When asked about his experience while going through the Vantage academy, Officer Wells said, “Loved it, especially the hands-on training portion in the second half of the year.” Wells continued, “It was a one-year program. I spent 4 hours a night in class while keeping full-time employment at the jail. It worked for me, compared to going to a full day academy and full-time work.”
Upon graduating the Vantage Police Academy, Wells worked on the Van Wert Sheriff's department, participating in ride alongs, parades, and fair patrol, until a spot came available at the city police department as a dispatcher and reserve officer. Wells remained there for the next four and a half years. “I was born and raised in the city, so the knowledge of the roads and community members made the police department a better fit for me.” Wells continued, “Being born in the city of Van Wert, not only do you have a passion for your job, but for the city you grew up in. You take pride in your job and take pride in your town.”
Currently, Wells holds multiple positions, including; Use of Force Instructor, OC Pepper Spray Instructor, ASP Batton Instructor, PD Precision Rifleman, Field Training Officer, and is in his second year as DARE officer for VWPD. “If you’ve got the passion, you’ve got the passion. The more I learn, the more I enjoy it.”
When asked what his favorite part of being an officer is, Wells said, “Helping a true victim. When you solve their crime, that’s the most rewarding. If someone has been taken advantage of and anytime you can solve something, it is a win.”
Officer Rob Black, Vantage Police Academy Commander, states, “There are currently 13 officers at the Van Wert Police Department that have graduated from the Vantage Police Academy, one of which is a 2021 graduate. Multiple positions have been filled at the Van Wert, Mercer, Paulding Sheriff’s offices, Delphos Police Department, and many more over the years.”
Vantage Police Academy students complete over 700 hours of classroom and on/off field training, while gaining employment or developing multiple local employer connections prior to graduating.
Vantage Police Academy is currently accepting applications. Financial assistance is available and applications can be picked up at the Vantage Adult Education office (door 6) or call Enrollment Coordinator Maria Diltz at 419.238.5411 x2118. For more information, please visit the Vantage website at vantagecareercenter.com/policeacad.aspx.