State officials opt out of training program, lobbying for regional center

Wednesday, October 13th 2004, 6:10 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Department of Public Safety will stop operating a police training program at East Central University in favor of a regional training site.

The academy, which has been at ECU for four years, has been operated by the state and is funded by the federal grants, said East Central University President Bill Cole.

``There's been strong indications at the national level for two to three years that the program was going to change from a state-operated police corps academy to a regional academy,'' Cole said.

Cole said a multistate program is more cost effective.

Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Ward said the agency will continue to provide officers as instructors for the program if the university is awarded the grant.

He said the department had opted not to compete for the federal grant because of the manpower involved in a regional site.

``There's not a financial drain, but we're not sure that DPS had the resources to compete at that level,'' Ward said.

The current cadet class, expected to graduate later this month, is small. Only five cadets out of the original 10 completed the 22-week program.

The university is submitting a proposal this week to the U.S. Department of Justice to be one of the seven regional training sites in the nation.

Cole said if the university becomes the regional training site, classes likely will expand to about 30 cadets.

The Justice Department is expected to make a decision by the beginning of 2005. If Oklahoma does not receive the grant, Oklahoma recruits will have to travel to another state for training.

East Central University has a ``Law Enforcement Center of Excellence'' that includes a multifaceted curriculum for criminal justice, and operates several federally funded programs, Cole said.

The state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, known as CLEET, also has built its training center in Ada.

``One of the features that also gives us an advantage is that we've had a good relationship with several surrounding states,'' Cole said. ``We've had cadets from Arizona and have relationships with several of the law enforcement agencies there.''