Black River Technical College (BRTC) has received $4.7 million from the Arkansas State and Local Recovery funds allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act to help construct barracks to house BRTC’s Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) recruits while attending classes.
LETA is the primary trainer of law enforcement officers for Northeast Arkansas, training 100-120 officers for local police stations and sheriff’s offices, Arkansas Highway Police, Arkansas State Police, and other state and local agencies. The distance to training academies in other parts of the state necessitates BRTC’s local program.
Students are often unable to travel home after every class and require housing to attend training, but with no on-campus facilities, local motels were previously rented. Motel rental constituted the second largest budget item for the program.
In addition, the college said students found the motels unsuitable, because motel costs increase yearly; frequent insect, bedbug, and roach as well as rodent and animal infestations occur; dents, scratches, and other damage occur to students’ state-issued vehicles; drug deals and patron intoxication occur outside rooms; and students have been physically and verbally accosted by motel patrons.
The barracks will stabilize housing costs, control recruits after-hour activities, allow monitoring of ill students, allow after-hour and specialized training, provide for additional academy courses, and also serve as accommodations to required guest instructors including those from FEMA, U.S. Secret Service, ATF, FBI, CJI, and the State Police.
“LETA’s state budget has not changed since its inception in 1999. Housing costs have incited a need for stable housing, and the distance many of our recruits travel to attend requires a safe and stable environment to promote learning,” said BRTC President Dr. Martin Eggensperger. “Arkansas law also requires BRTC to provide training, room and board, and washers and dryers at no cost to the students or the departments they will be employed by, so an offset in cost is needed as well.”