Erath County Sheriff Matt Coates has started a new program aimed at identifying exceptional employees working in the department, and giving them an opportunity to become a certified peace officer. 

“This is something I have fought hard for since I became sheriff,” Coates told the E-T Wednesday. 

Coates worked with county officials to implement the program and had the cost added to the department’s budget.

Employees must first apply, then go through an interview process before they are chosen.

“We will pick two per year,” Coates said. “It’s an incentive for people to come to work here knowing they have the ability to move through the department, and it rewards them for their hard work.”

Those who are chosen will attend a six-month program at the academy in Weatherford. When they complete the academy and pass the state test, they can become commissioned as a peace officer.

Next year’s candidates who will begin the academy in February are Corporal Jake Bolin and Corporal Cody Shawver.

Both work in the Erath County Jail and are second in command on their shift. 

Bolin has been with the department for more than six years and Shawver has been with the department about four. 

The sheriff’s office will pay for their schooling and salary while they attend the academy. 

“I’m extremely proud of them,” Coates said. “They are hard workers and take their jobs seriously. Both of them are well liked and respected inside and outside of the jail. I think we made two great picks.”