Foley donates $25,000 to launch scholarship for PBSC Police Academy recruits
Former Congressman Mark Foley, a longtime public servant, has donated $25,000 to Palm Beach State College to launch a scholarship to help Police Academy recruits fund their training and to get more of them in the law enforcement pipeline.
Foley, who attended then Palm Beach Community College and comes from a family line of law enforcement officers, said he is giving back in recognition of his father and grandfather who served at his hometown police department in Newton, Mass. and his brother-in-law who retired from the Lake Worth Police Department.
The Congressman Mark Foley Law Enforcement Scholarship will support PBSC Police Academy recruits who are not already sponsored by one of the 24 law enforcement agencies in Palm Beach County that send their recruits to the academy.
“The men and women in uniform risk their lives every day to preserve our quality of life,’’ said Foley, who served in both chambers of the Florida Legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995. He represented Florida’s 16th Congressional District until 2006. “This scholarship is a gift that represents a small token of my respect for law and order and safe and sound communities.”
Foley, with his sister, Donna Foley Winterson, and brother-in-law, Stew Winterson, by his side, presented his gift to the College on Feb. 28. Among those attending the presentation were PBSC leaders and students, as well as Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg; Michael Gauger, retired chief deputy for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; PBSC Foundation Board chair Ricky Wade; Noel Guillama, Foundation Board Development committee chair and Jackie Rogers, PBSC’s retired dean of Health and Science and Public Safety.
More than 120 recruits graduate from PBSC’s five to six academies held each academic year. They learn from instructors who are professionals in their field and who share real-world experience. However, the six-month, full-time college certificate program is demanding, making it difficult for recruits to work while in training. They are required to attend class from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days each weekday, and they cannot miss any portion of the training. Last year, about 42 percent of the students were sponsored by law enforcement agencies. The scholarship would support those who must cover the roughly $4,500 to attend the academy out of their own pockets.
“It’s a big deal for recruits to have the ability to seek their dreams in law enforcement and have some financial stability during uncertain economic times,’’ said Vincent Morton, criminal justice director who oversees the academy.
Eighty-five percent of police and public safety officers currently serving in Palm Beach County have been trained at PBSC. In addition to the CCP program, the College offers an associate degree in Criminal Justice, which is another path to entering the Police Academy and the law enforcement field.
The College previously offered a part-time college certificate program, but that ended after the last academy graduated in 2020. Morton said he hopes to restore that part-time program to help with recruitment efforts. Currently law enforcement agencies in Florida and around the nation are experiencing shortages in recruitment and staffing. The part-time program takes longer to complete, but recruits have more flexibility to work and go to school.
To learn more about the PBSC Foundation visit, www.palmbeachstate.edu. To learn more about the Police Academy and PBSC public safety program offerings visit, www.palmbeachstate.edu/career-pathways/pathway-public-safety