Appalachian Police Officer Development Program

The Appalachian Police Officer Development Program (APDP), the only program of its kind in North Carolina, is a two-year program designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and training to become police officers, all while they are completing their undergraduate or graduate degrees at Appalachian State University.

Graduates entering the criminal justice system job market will have bachelor's or graduate degrees, two years of work experience in policing, and North Carolina law enforcement certification and training. They will also have the exposure to different races, cultures, ideas and beliefs that enrollment at an institution of higher education provides.

"Policing is a profession in need of leaders, thinkers and innovative ideas to facilitate positive reform. Institutions of higher education must get involved and play a role in shaping the future of the profession."

Andy Stephenson, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Appalachian State University

Enrollment in the APDP is open to all full-time Appalachian students regardless of major or academic program. Upon successful completion of an interview, a background investigation and a psychological evaluation, applicants will become police cadets. There is no additional cost beyond regular tuition.

Cadet training includes broad training objectives and best practices specific to Appalachian Police, including:

  • first aid, automated external defibrillator (AED) and CPR certification;
  • communication skills training;
  • diversity training;
  • de-escalation training;
  • active shooter/aggressor training.

Upon completion of cadet training, cadets will be given civilian security assignments on campus, which can range from building security to special events on campus. Cadets will work 12-20 hours a week for competitive, hourly compensation.

“The Appalachian Police Officer Development Program will have a significant, positive impact on policing and the criminal justice system in our region and throughout North Carolina.”

Andy Stephenson

Cadets who perform satisfactorily and meet academy requirements will have the opportunity to attend the Appalachian Police Academy held each summer, where they will complete North Carolina's basic law enforcement training (BLET). To complete the academy and take their state exam, cadets must be at least 20 years old — the required age to be a police officer in North Carolina.

After passing the state certification exam, graduates of the academy will be certified police officers in the state of North Carolina and will continue working as part-time police officers for Appalachian Police Department until they earn their academic degree.

Related links

Appalachian Today
Oct. 12, 2021

Appalachian Police Officer Development Program grads enter the criminal justice job market with a college degree, North Carolina law enforcement certification and up to two years of policing experience.

Appalachian Today
Oct. 1, 2019

Appalachian Police Academy celebrates its second graduating class and the graduates’ 100% pass rate on the North Carolina police officer certification exam.

Appalachian Magazine
Jan. 24, 2019

UComm's Emily Bausch welcome's Appalachian State Police Chief Andy Stephenson, Capt. K.C. Mitchell and cadet Abigail Rivera. The group discusses background on the Appalachian Police Development Program and what cadets get to experience.

Appalachian Today
Jan. 11, 2019

Plummer, who works as a part-time APDP cadet on campus, balances her academic and athletic career as a graduate student in Appalachian’s MPA program.

Appalachian Today
Feb. 19, 2019

Bryce Helms, a senior criminal justice major, is the first cadet from the APDP to be hired by the Appalachian Police Department. She began her new role as a full-time police officer with the department in January.

Appalachian Today
Dec. 12, 2018

The junior criminal justice-international studies major is a member of the first class of Appalachian’s two-year Police Officer Development Program, which was created to equip Appalachian students with the knowledge, skills and training to become law enforcement officers.

Appalachian Today
Sept. 5, 2018

For 21 Appalachian State University students, 13 weeks of getting up at dawn for physical training have paid off. The students graduated from the Appalachian Police Academy on Aug. 25, becoming members of the Appalachian Police Department and certified North Carolina police officers as part of the Appalachian Police Development Program (APDP).

Appalachian Today
July 19, 2018

In May 2018, 24 Appalachian State University students began the rigorous training and education at the Appalachian State University Police Academy to become certified police officers in North Carolina, becoming the first class in the Appalachian Police Development Program (APDP). In August, the Appalachian Police Academy will conclude with the issuing of the state certification exam, and a new group of 25 students will begin cadet training as part-time police cadets during the 2018–19 academic year. Those cadets will attend the academy in summer 2019.

Appalachian Today
July 19, 2018

Whether in uniform, a suit and tie or surfacing drenched from an icy dunking in a charity water tank, Appalachian State University’s Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety Andy Stephenson commands respect while remaining approachable. His easygoing, friendly demeanor belies a fiercely strategic mindset. Building trust and changing minds are key to Stephenson’s goal to become the model for policing in the United States.