Dylan Lee

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College

"Anyone can stand up and teach from a book, but to have professors with real experience in the field to learn from made OCtech so much better."

I’ve always wanted to become a cop. My dad’s been a cop for almost 30 years now. I initially planned to go to a four-year college and study criminal justice, but I ultimately wanted to move quickly and get into the field so I could start working.

This is my story of following that dream. 

I chose OCtech because they are a lot more hands-on than a four-year school. I graduated on the Dean’s List in 2017, and started working with the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office shortly thereafter. Within a year, I made the SWAT team. I consider myself a proactive officer. I deeply believe in community policing and the importance of getting out in the community to show people that our force is here for them and that we want to help.

A couple of months ago, some of my shift mates and I went out and played basketball on the street with five or six little kids in front of a house. Originally, we received a call about kids in the roadway playing basketball. We don’t see anything wrong with that, of course, we just don’t want them to get hit by a car. We decided to go out and park our cruisers on the side of the road to slow traffic down, then we got out to play basketball with them for a half hour. I love community policing and can’t imagine myself doing anything else. 


How did you decide technical college was right for you? 

Honestly, it was a lot cheaper than a four-year college. The main thing, though, was just being more interactive with my major and as hands-on as early as possible. The police academy didn’t teach me how to fingerprint, OCtech did. It also gave me more of a background to take to the police academy. I learned a lot about history, civil liability cases and the laws I am now enforcing. 


What was your OCtech experience like? 

I loved it. During each class, we go over incidents that happened around the United States. We would talk about it, share opinions, discuss and then go into the lesson plan. 

Rather than just sitting in a classroom and reading from a screen, it was interactive. We even learned how to handle crime scenes and crime scene sketches. 

Three of my professors were actually former law enforcement professionals. Anyone can stand up and teach from a book, but to have teachers with real experience in the field to learn from made OCtech so much better. 


What’s a misperception people have about technical education and what would you say to them? 

People have the perception of four-year colleges being better because you go to school longer and you end up with a Bachelor’s Degree. In reality, when you look at it, the first two years of a four-year school are nothing but general ed courses. When you go to a technical college, the classes for your degree start in the first semester of your first year. Technical colleges expedite the timeline so you can get your degree and gain more experience and knowledge in your field rather than spending the first two years of your schooling focused on classes that may not even apply to what you’re going to do. 


What advice do you have for high schoolers considering the next step in their journey? 

With any job, there will be days you wake up and don’t feel like going to work. Ask yourself what kind of career will make you excited to get up and go into work most days.