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Thomas Raper, in his police uniform, posts for a photo outside.“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This quote from Henry Ford is one that Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) graduate Thomas Raper finds profoundly true.

“If you put in the extra work it will be seen and pay dividends,” Thomas said. Thomas completed his BLET training at Sandhills Community College in the summer of 2020 and now works for the Southern Pines Police department, a town he has “a profound sense of pride in.” Before enrolling at SCC, Thomas completed his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University.

Thomas had long considered becoming a police officer and the program at SCC was a good fit. “It’s a beautiful campus with a big school feel,” he said. His job interview at the Southern Pines Police Department fell on the same day he took his BLET state exam.

It’s challenging for him to pick a favorite memory from his time at SCC. “We were practicing searching suspects and I distracted one of the ‘officers,’” Thomas recalled. “While he was dealing with me, the subject stood up and ran out of the room with handcuffs on… Or maybe it was the time we were practicing clearing buildings and an instructor and I got in a simulated gunfight.

“Special Agent George Marr is an Alcohol Law Enforcement agent who had a profound impact on me,” Thomas said. “There was also Captain Tim Cameron and Deputy Chief Williamson. There were so many fantastic instructors who I have great respect for.”

Looking towards the future, Thomas hopes to work on a directed patrol team, and “maybe even become a supervisor.”

Thomas offers this advice to those thinking about enrolling in BLET: “It’s not for everyone and that’s okay. If you decide this is what you want to do… you’ll have good days and bad days like anywhere else. You must be willing to put 100% of yourself out 100% off the time, emotionally, physically, and mentally.”

Basic Law Enforcement Training

The Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program is designed to give students the essential skills required for entry-level employment as law enforcement officers with a state, county, municipal agency, or in the private sector.

The next class session runs from May 13 on the Pinehurst campus, and students will take the state exam on August 27. Classes will be held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Some Saturday classes and night hours will be required. Those interested in attending the class in May need to start the application process as soon as possible.

BLET will offer an evening class that will begin in August and be held on the Hoke Campus. Classes will be Mondays through Fridays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and alternating Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

To learn more, go to Contact Bob Kehoe to register or to discuss employment opportunities available upon completion at or (910) 693-2667.

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