Featured photo: Mariana Tinoco and Haley Thompson pose outside the Hendersonville Police Department (Photo credit: Rich Keen, Marketing and Communications Dept.).
The following story was featured in Blue Ridge Community College’s 2021-22 annual report. This report and others are available online on the About Blue Ridge webpage.
Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Blue Ridge Community College is designed to give students the essential skills required for entry-level employment as law enforcement officers with state, county or municipal governments, as well as private enterprises. Rutherford County native Haley Thompson and Marianna Tinoco, a North Henderson High graduate, successfully completed the program and are both currently working as police officers with the Hendersonville Police Department.
Haley Thompson is hard-working, goal-driven and passionate about making a difference in the world. That’s why she says the BLET program at Blue Ridge was the perfect fit for her. She shares that it taught her to overcome challenges, learn balance and focus on safety, compassion and empathy – all things that are key in her current job as a patrol officer.
“I also got more fit,” she said. “That was a great additional benefit.”
Haley’s great-uncle had worked in the Hendersonville Police Department, and she wanted to follow in his footsteps. But she also wanted to make her own path. The police department sponsored Haley’s participation in the program, with the expectation that upon successful completion she would join the Hendersonville Police Department. Haley completed the program in four months.
“I believe it’s made me a better police officer,” she said. “Attending a local college makes it easier for people to relate to me. They know I’m from here,
went to school here and that I’m working to make my community a safe and happy place to live.”
Thompson now serves the same community where she grew up.
“It’s a serious program, and I really like how the College operates,” she said. “I like the fact that they made the experience like a real job. There was a lot of accountability involved. I respect that.”
Marianna Tinoco recently completed her field training with the Hendersonville Police Department and agrees with Thompson about the rigor of the program.
“It’s a strict curriculum, and you need to work hard to complete it,” she said. “They treat everyone equally too, which I really liked. I didn’t get any special treatment for being a woman, and I didn’t want it. The program really focuses on integrity.”
Marianna took advantage of the Career and College Promise option while still in high school, making it an easy transition into the program after graduation.
She also started pursuing college credits while in high school.
“I wanted to stay close to home and to my family, as they needed me to be nearby to help out,” she explained. “I live close to Blue Ridge, so the decision was an easy one.”
Marianna adds that Blue Ridge helps students see what their future can hold – especially if they’re willing to work hard to achieve it.
Today, both women are excited to serve communities close to home and where they attended school.
“I think the fact that I went to school here also serves as an example to others in the community that it’s possible to do great things if you’re willing to put in the work. Blue Ridge is ready to help anyone take their career goal to the next level,” Marianna said.
Read more stories like this in Blue Ridge Community College’s 2021-22 annual report. This report and others are available online on the About Blue Ridge webpage.