Police academy scholarships are new focus of West memorial fund

CH Mayor Kahlil Seren and Chris Smith, a 2017 Officer Jason D. West scholarship recipient, at the End of Watch Ceremony in July 2022.

The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund (OJWMF) has a new focus: The nonprofit organization will provide tuition reimbursement scholarships to selected graduates of the Martin G. Lentz Cleveland Heights Police Academy.

The academy was closed for two years during the pandemic, and will reopen in 2023. Citizens 21 years of age and older can apply for the academy's January or July six-month session.

Tuition for the academy is $5,000. The OJWMF will select a limited number of academy graduates to receive a partial tuition reimbursement after each of the 2023 sessions.

“We are so happy that the academy is reopening,” said Lita Gonzalez, OJWMF board president. “Providing these scholarships is aligned with our goals to encourage young men and women to enter the field of law enforcement, and to strengthen the relationship between young people and the police.”

The organization originally was formed by citizens, business owners and police officers in 2008, after Cleveland Heights Police Officer Jason D. West was killed in the line of duty.

Initially, the group’s focus was to grant college scholarships to Heights High seniors who completed the Career Tech Criminal Justice program. In 2021, the school district discontinued the program, and the organization then searched for new ways in which to best accomplish its mission.

“Our board is very excited to partner with the academy, and we look forward to learning about the applicants and selecting several for the scholarships,” continued Gonzalez.

“Officer West was a role model who inspired young people to serve their community,” said Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren. “With the reopening of the police academy and the launching of this scholarship, Officer West will remain an inspiration for years to come.”

To ensure the fund is adequate to provide several scholarships, the OJWMF has contacted previous donors and is planning a fundraising event for early 2023.

To donate to the scholarship fund, send a check to The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 18662, Cleveland Heights, OH, 44118-9998. Checks should be made payable to The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund.

The OfficerJasonWest.org website is up, and will soon be accepting online donations.

For more information, and to apply to the academy, visit the Cleveland Heights Police Academy website, www.clevelandheights.gov/366/Cleveland-Heights-Police-Academy.

Joy Henderson

Joy Henderson is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights who volunteers on the marketing committee for The Officer Jason D. West Memorial Fund.

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 10:41 AM, 01.02.2023