EL PASO, Texas -

The only non-law enforcement entity in the El Paso area that certifies people to become peace officers is accepting applications.

The El Paso Community College's Law Enforcement Academy holds two programs at a time each year. The next session begins in September.

ABC-7 got a glimpse of the training the students receive Tuesday morning.
Six recent graduates carefully loaded their gun with bullets as an instructor prepared the targets and explained over a loudspeaker what they needed to do: shoot 10 rounds at the head and body once the target made an about-face. A second after the paper targets swiveled on the mechanical handle, shots rang out loudly.

Instructor Ernest Wade, a retired El Paso Police Department detective, told ABC-7 that shooting a weapon is just a small part of what students learn and practice.

"When they apply for a job, they have 704 hours of training to be a peace officer, or a police officer," Wade said. "So they're walking in with that certification, as opposed to walking in off the street, looking for a job."

Terrence Newman, 38, said he has always dreamed of being a police officer. The 14-year veteran of the military hopes to work for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Newman just graduated from the academy, and is eager to apply for the DPS.

"There's a saying that winning is in the preparation," Newman said. "I feel like when I do go to DPS, or wherever I get picked up, I'm prepared more than any other student."

The program costs $2,877. The September program lasts all day for about 4-and-a-half months. For more information on the program and how to register, call instructor Ernest Wade at 831-7110.