YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State University Police Academy got a big honor Tuesday. Ohio Attorney General David Yost was on campus to announce that the program is one of only a few in the state to be named a STAR training center.

There are 60 police academies across Ohio, but only 15% have been designated as STAR training centers.

Yost presented YSU President Jim Tressel with a plaque for the STAR designation and the Academy’s commander Ed Villone with the star.

The 17 students currently in Youngstown State’s Police Academy were part of Tuesday afternoon’s program in which Yost designated the academy a STAR Training Center. Yost said the STAR program was started in 2020.

“I wanted to challenge law enforcement to step up, to increase the already high level of excellence,” said Yost.

YSU’s police academy program is one semester — a tough one — in which most students take no other classes.

Austin Householder is from Canfield. “Was it hard? Absolutely. Exhausting, difficult but definitely well worth it,” said Householder.

Erin Higgins is from Boardman. When asked what she learned from this program Higgins said, “Just the hard work and dedication it takes to participate in law enforcement.”

There’s a wall full of photos of those who’ve graduated. To become a STAR Training Center 85% of an academy’s class must pass the peace officer’s exam. YSU is at 100%.

“You should be proud of that. Youngstown State is an outstanding institution. It has been growing in stature and reputation over the last couple of decades,” Yost said.

Villone also addressed the students.

“None of this is happening without your work. Your work is what puts us in a position to actually acquire things like this,” said Villone.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s tough. It’s tough out there,” said Yost.

Yost finished his speech talking about what he called the demonization of police, especially after the death of George Floyd. But he left these future police officers with something positive — a reminder of their calling.

“You are doing the most important and the primary function of government. It is a noble and honorable thing to undertake, an honorable profession,” said Yost.

Before Yost was at YSU, he was also at Kent State Trumbull where he designated its police academy a STAR training center as well.