FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MAY 13, 2020
KENANSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – Law enforcement officers are used to be on the front lines. They are often the first to arrive on the scene of an accident and the first to encounter the enemy – those who are not law-abiding citizens. Now those officers find themselves on another kind of front line, one against an invisible enemy that everyone is trying to conquer.
One such law enforcement officer is Eric Trinidad, a graduate of the James Sprunt Basic Law Enforcement program.
“It is kind of frightening,” said Eric, who works at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC as a patrol officer ensuring the safety of staff, patients, and visitors. “When we first started seeing patients with symptoms, everyone knew it was here, and so we are having to adapt every day.”
Some of the ways that Eric is having to adapt is by being screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19, wearing face masks to prevent the spread, and being more cautious about what he touches.
“Being at the hospital is different than working on the outside,” said Eric, who has also previously worked as an officer at the Warsaw Police Department. “At Vidant, we still have arrest powers, but our jobs are mainly focused on the hospital and we are here to show that we care for those who come through, patients and visitors. If it were my family member, I would be full of emotion, so we take that into consideration and show more compassion.”
The saddest part about the pandemic, Eric says, is having to tell visitors they cannot be with loved ones in their time of need.
“Right now, we have a no visitor policy. It is hard to tell family members they are not allowed to be here at this time and that makes it difficult for all of us,” said Eric. “I think sometimes people forget that is happening and they don’t realize that if something happens, they cannot be with their loved one.”
But there has been something positive to come out of all of this and that was being able to surprise frontline healthcare workers by lining the streets and cheering them on.
“It was pretty cool. I feel like we get a lot of praise and thank you’s for our service, so it was cool to be able to do that for them,” said Eric. “They are walking into the unknown and dealing with patients who may be at their final moments in life, so it was an honor to be able to recognize them for all that they do, and to have the community gather around as well just to let them know they have our support.”
Although a front line worker himself, he says that the nurses that he works with in the emergency room and throughout the hospital are the true heroes of COVID-19.
“I’m not a hero, but I do work beside a lot of people who are. Nurses serving those patients are more of a hero than anything I’m doing. I’m thankful for them and it is an honor to be working beside them.”
Eric went into law enforcement because he wanted to help support his family, which at the time consisted of his mother, father, two brothers, and his brother’s family. Now married and starting a family of his own, Eric says that the BLET certification he earned has impacted him greatly and changed his life, giving him an advantage that he would not have had otherwise.
“After four months in the BLET program, I was able to support my family, I was essentially the head of household, and we are definitely not where we were six years ago. BLET definitely changed my life.”
The tuition for Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at James Sprunt Community College, as well as the exam for licensure/certification, are covered by the State of North Carolina. Students must receive a sponsorship from a law enforcement agency prior to enrolling and are responsible for the cost of books and a uniform, however financial aid is available to those who qualify to help cover those expenses.
Those enrolled in the BLET program could potentially earn this credential at basically no cost out of pocket and gain employment immediately upon completion, which is exactly what Eric did.
“I can see the difference now. Getting my BLET certification has helped my family to have a better advantage in life. It was a great opportunity.”
Serving as a role model to his siblings, his brothers have also entered law enforcement in North Carolina, one serving the Town of Mount Olive and the other at The Duplin County Animal Control office.
“My family was struggling financially,” Eric says, whose parents worked at processing plants and factories located in Duplin County. “This certification helped us to get out of that struggle.”
For those who want to go into law enforcement, Eric says that they need to take it seriously.
“Go get your certification, but know your mindset has to change,” he said. “Don’t do it for the money, do it because you love to serve others and because you want to protect people, that’s why you go into law enforcement.”
As Eric recalls his education at James Sprunt, he says “I’m thankful for the program as well as those who helped me along the way. Other classmates helped me out by giving me a ride to and from school,” which is something he says he will always remember and be forever grateful for.
As for his future, Eric hopes to continue his education, getting his associate’s degree in criminal justice and eventually his bachelor’s degree, also in criminal justice.
“I could never see myself sitting behind a desk, for me, I’ll probably stay in law enforcement in some capacity until I retire.”
– by Cheryl Hemric
For more information on the BLET program or Criminal Justice Program at James Sprunt Community College, please contact Ken Jones, the department chair for vocation programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media-related questions, please contact Cheryl Hemric, director of marketing and public information at (910) 275-6170.
James Sprunt Community College is one of the premier institutions in the North Carolina Community College System. Our college serves more than 5,000 students annually from our Kenansville and WestPark campuses. Learn more at http://www.jamessprunt.edu.