David Noblett wanted to produce a more career-ready student.

The Merced College Police Officers Standards & Training (POST) program was already established and known in the law-enforcement community when Noblett and Mark Johnson took over in the fall of 2018. The program comprises the first two modules in the Police Academy, students then transfer to finish up the final module at schools like Fresno City and San Joaquin Delta Colleges.

The pair of Merced College professors wanted to see if they could take the program to the next level, asking a little more from the program’s participants and at the same time making themselves more available to students.

“We came in and basically told them that we were going to hold them to a higher standard,” Noblett said. “The idea was to train them as professionally as possible, so that when they graduate, it’s an easy transition when they begin their careers.

 “Word is getting out that we have a pretty good academy.”

That certainly appeared to be the case at the Module One Fresno Police Academy graduation on Friday, Aug. 17.

Noblett and Johnson were in attendance as three of their former cadets graduated, including Mark Barroso, who received awards for being the top academic student and the best all-around student.

“Merced College was mentioned twice during the ceremony by Captain Fief, who trained me, for sending quality cadets to their program,” Noblett said. “Another cadet was hired and sworn in by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. We received a lot of kudos for supporting law-enforcement agencies.

“A lot of people complemented the quality of cadet we were sending out.”

The good vibes kept flowing a couple days later when Alicia Meek was recognized with a Top Academic Student Award, Top Physical Fitness Award and a Leadership Certificate at her own graduation.

So what is so different that the Merced College Academy is suddenly leaving a lasting impression?

“I think Mark and I have just completely bought into the program,” Noblett said. “Mark is very involved in forming and getting together study groups. We’ve also made ourselves available away from school. If they need help with defensive tactics or extra practice at a range, we’ll go out and give them some instruction.

“The effort is working. We’re starting to get recruiting requests weekly and have six current students affiliated with the Merced County Sherriff’s Department, CAL FIRE, Oakdale and Dos Palos.”

The POST program accepts 45 students every school year, with applications due in April. Students are chosen on a first-come-first-served basis. Module 3 is an 11-week program that comprises 147 hours. Module 2 is a 15-week program with a 217-hour requirement.