SRO Avigail Cruz Serves with Clayton PD

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[Clinton, N.C.] – Sampson Community College’s (SCC) Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program has had the privilege of producing some of the finest law enforcement officers across the state since 1985. One of those former students is School Resource Officer (SRO) Avigail Cruz, a 2019 BLET graduate who now serves with the Clayton Police Department.

Graduating from Hobbton High School in 2011, Cruz enrolled at SCC in 2016 in both the Human Services Technology and Criminal Justice programs. As she worked to complete two associate degrees, Cruz was also encouraged to enroll in the BLET program, learning the benefits of holding both a certificate and degree in future law enforcement work.

She explained, “I’d always wanted to join the force, but never felt I would do it. While I was finishing up my Criminal Justice program, the BLET coordinator at the time spoke with me and showed me the pros and cons of doing the program versus just getting the degree and going into juvenile probation. I’ve always liked helping and working with the community and being part of the change that I want to see.”

Hoping to build a stronger connection between law enforcement, youth, and the Hispanic community, Cruz added the BLET program to her course load. In 2018 and 2019, she graduated with honors in both of her associate programs, received an Outstanding Graduate award, earned her BLET certificate, and was even inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor’s Society.

Her favorite part of the program was “creating a second family” that she could lean on and connect with through their shared cadet experiences. However, the instructors, Cruz remarked, were another major asset of the BLET program– teachers who were “more than willing to help you along the way to see you succeed.”

She voiced, “All of my instructors while in BLET served as mentors, but 1st Sgt. Dienhart was a great support system when it came to the course work. Detective Godwin was also a great mentor and motivator when it came to the physical portion, and Captain Stroud was a great and much needed instructor when I was struggling with my fear of the driving course.”

Officer Avigail Cruz obtained two associate degrees on top of her BLET certificate at SCC, now serving local students in a Clayton middle school. (Courtesy Photo)

In a quote, Captain Robert Stroud, BLET Qualified Assistant (QA) at SCC, recalled the hard-work and dedication Cruz demonstrated during her time in BLET, and how she was able to succeed beyond what she originally assumed she could.

He remembered, “Officer Cruz was a hard worker. Her determination to successfully pass BLET was powerful. Cruz faced every challenge head-on and sometimes even surprised herself how well she did in the program. Her commitment to the program was truly remarkable to watch.”

Since July 2020, Cruz has served as an SRO with the Clayton Police Department. Her job is to ensure that the middle school students are learning within a safe environment through patrolling campus, increasing the functionality of metal detectors, and serving as a mentor when needed. During the summer, Cruz works patrol shifts until the new school year begins.

“I do believe the BLET program prepared me for my current work,” Cruz remarked. “They provided the fundamentals to a forever evolving profession. I already knew the basics of law enforcement, and relied on my superiors for in-depth knowledge while doing the job. I was expecting a child when I applied, and decided this was the best course of action due to the working hours. As an SRO, it has also allowed me to get a break from patrol hours and try to form relationships with the juveniles in my community.”

In the future, Cruz hopes to promote to supervisor after obtaining her SRO certification and a bachelor’s degree— two goals she is currently working towards. Looking back, she highly encourages other individuals who are contemplating a career in law enforcement to apply for the BLET program at SCC.

Cruz closed, “I enjoyed my experience on campus and in classes. The staff have always been welcoming and helpful with any question or need I had. I enjoyed my time in the BLET Program, the bond that I formed with my instructors and the other cadets was a forever thing.”

Successful completion of the BLET curriculum certificate program requires that students satisfy the minimum requirements for certification by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, including 640-hours minimum of instruction and passing the POPAT course. Graduates will possess skills to function as a law enforcement officer in state, county, and municipal governments in North Carolina.

Sampson CC extends its appreciation to Officer Cruz for her service and commitment to ensuring the safety of students in our neighboring community. The College is proud to have played a role in her law enforcement career and looks forward to seeing all she will continue to do with the Clayton Police Department.

For more information about the BLET program or how to enroll, visit

About Sampson Community College:  Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.