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Scholarship enables Glenville High grad to pursue lifelong dream of becoming police officer

11.14.2016

Ever since he was a child, Julian Drish has wanted to become a police officer.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for law enforcement officers and the job they do,” Drish, 27, said of a desire to pursue police work that dates back to his childhood. “Being able to make a difference in people’s lives and in the community is something I’ve always wanted to be part of.”

But because that dreamed seemed out of reach, after graduating from Cleveland’s Glenville High School, Drish began taking classes in preparation for a possible career in early childhood education.

His life changed significantly, however, when he received a scholarship to attend the Basic Police Academy training program at Cuyahoga Community College’s KeyBank Public Safety Training Center.

The funding was provided by the KeyBank Foundation and the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, an association of law enforcement officers representing more than 50 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Drish attended classes and received hands-on instruction for nine hours each day over seven months at the center’s state-of-the-art facilities, which opened in September 2014. The center is home to several public safety education programs for students and also serves as a training ground for regional public safety departments.

The center includes 12 classrooms; a 108,000-square foot paved area for defensive pursuit and pursuit driving techniques; a 4,000-square foot, two-story burn building for fire simulation and rescue training; a military-style fitness and obstacle area; new police vehicles; and a shooting range.

A $1.4 million grant from the KeyBank Foundation enabled Cuyahoga Community College to enhance and expand both programs, as well as to fund a campaign to recruit minority and female candidates for first responder jobs and provide outreach programs to military veterans. It also made possible a youth-focused summer academy.

In announcing the dedication of the center, the school cited employment projections showing a critical need for protective service personnel, with nearly 1,500 job openings expected each year through 2022, many of them created by retiring law enforcement officers.

Drish is among those now prepared to seize that opportunity.

Because the center draws instructors from a variety of law enforcement backgrounds and agencies whose work crosses multiple bands of investigative and police work, Drish said the training he received was broad-based and thorough.

“The help we received throughout the academy was very good,” Drish said. “They did everything they could to help us complete the training, and they made sure you were exposed to a lot of different material so you could decide what you were interested in. Having different instructors from different backgrounds really gave me the benefit of learning a lot of different perspectives. That was invaluable.”

The center’s mission is to provide a top-notch training experience that will send graduates into the community capable of performing their duties at the highest level, according to Clayton Harris, Dean of Cuyahoga Community College’s Criminal Justice program.

After graduating from the academy, Drish secured a position as an auxiliary officer with the Woodmere Village Police Department, and at the time of this writing was under consideration for a part-time position with that department, and also had received interest from the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department and the Cleveland Clinic Police Department.

“The training immediately provided me with a lot of opportunities I would never have gotten otherwise,” Drish said.

Drish grew up in Cleveland and was a three-sport athlete at Glenville, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He remains interested in fitness and strength training and enjoys cooking and spending time with his family.

While Drish was exposed to a broad array of police work and investigative tactics through the training program, his long-term goal is to work in a special victims unit, or SVU, a specialized division within some police departments whose detectives typically investigate crimes involving sexual assault or against children or the elderly.

Drish believes in the importance of SVU work and hopes to have the opportunity someday to use his training to help those in the community who need it.

“I feel like I can make a big difference in serving people and serving the community,” Drish said. “The scholarship was something that enabled me to do this and put me in this position, and I’m very grateful for that and for the training that I was able to receive. It has allowed me to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do.”