In the year following the march by 4,000 people to the Historic Chester County Courthouse for a June 4, 2020 Black Lives Matter rally, positive changes continue. Brian Woodard is experiencing that change, as the second recipient of a Municipal Police Academy scholarship – a program created as a result of the march and that focuses on diversifying law enforcement in Chester County.
Woodard, a graduate of Philadelphia’s Franklin Learning Center and father of two sons, has been accepted at Delaware County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy and begins its full-time course this July. He said he has always wanted to become a law enforcement officer and currently works in security for the Phoenixville Area School District.
Woodward learned about the requirement of Pennsylvania’s Act 120 training and certification in order to serve as a police officer only after he had applied for a seat at the Academy. “I knew about other certifications for my work as a security officer, but Act 120 training was news to me,” he said.
Community and faith leaders who addressed the crowd on June 4, 2020, called for action that went well past the march. They discussed the role of police and how to recruit more officers of color to reflect local communities.
“Many people complete a four-year Criminal Justice degree before learning that it isn’t enough to serve as a police officer,” said Chester County Sheriff Fredda Maddox. “By then, minority students may not have funds to continue their training—they need to work immediately after college commencement to pay off student debt. Or they are working two jobs after high school graduation just to make ends meet.”
At their first meeting after last year’s march, Sheriff Maddox spoke to the community and faith leaders about the need to raise awareness about Act 120 certification and, importantly, secure funding to help candidates cover the cost of education. A subset of those leaders, including Sheriff Maddox and Chester County Chief Deputy Kevin Dykes, formed a committee and began a scholarship program.
Brian Woodward’s scholarship to the Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy is the second to be awarded this year to a student of color. The committee announces funding for two more scholarships for 2022, including one made possible through a donation from the Chester County Fraternal Order of Police.
For scholarship information and an application, please send a request to [email protected].