Skills training, the hands-on experience needed to prepare for a peace officer certification test, next May will be part of the Criminal Justice program at Central Lakes College, Brainerd. Law enforcement agencies – state, municipal and county – have the continual need for well trained and highly skilled officers. State and federal government agencies have need for highway patrol, treasury agents, FBI, immigration, security guards and conservation agents. Designed to equip the prospective peace officer with tools necessary to qualify for licensure in Minnesota, the eight-week, 12-credit certificate program grew from CLC’s recognized academic degree from in law enforcement.
“We are offering several unique elements that make students employable with certifications that otherwise might be an expense for law enforcement agencies,” said Dave Davis, program coordinator. He is a full-time deputy with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am passionate about offering this training,” said Dave, an adjunct faculty at CLC in the program where wife Gae is one of two full-time instructors. Curtis Pribnow is the other.
In addition to meeting the needs of local criminal justice students and graduates, having skills training in Brainerd also benefits law enforcement agencies.
Students have the opportunity to obtain certification in areas such as the Safe and Sober campaign, with special training in Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST).
Other certifications are designed with an eye on the future of law enforcement based on what Davis and other peace officers have observed in the field with inexperienced colleagues.
“We are giving our students the training before they enter the profession, Dave said. “Departments won’t need to spend the $500 to $600 to send someone for the certification.”
The CLC Skills program intends to incorporate technology, from computers to Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) devices pegged at pinpointing moving vehicle violators. The college programs’ seven-squad fleet will showcase data retrieval tools and low-light vision aids.
Community partnerships are forming to support firearms training at a new indoor firing range, with consultation from developer Stewart Mills. An Emergency Vehicle Operations Class (EVOC) will make use of an exceptional roadway interchange course at Camp Ripley.
“We are getting a lot of support from our advisory committee chaired by (Deerwood Police Chief) Harry Gottsch,” said Gae. The committee includes representatives from several county sheriffs and related agencies, city police departments, the DNR, and tribal police.
“We will have about 20 law enforcement professionals who are certified specialists, teaching 29 Skills courses,” Dave said. The classes emanate from general areas of firearms, patrol practices, use of force, and tactical communication.
Instructors draw from years of practical law enforcement street experience and focus on developing skills which are tactically safe and realistic.
Dave said that one Skills instructional component will involve physical testing, for which he will be certified after attending the Cooper Institute in Dallas in late July.
Students accepted for admission in the Criminal Justice program need to pass a background check. When they complete the training, graduates are presented certificates at a formal program.
If unable to complete a Skills component, the student can re-take. Miss again and you’re sent to the back of the line.
“We’re preparing the future professionals according to Peace Officer Standards Testing (POST) objectives,” said Gae. “And we are going to give them additional, marketable skills and tactical insight.”
Skills training, as with the academic portion of law enforcement at CLC, provides networking opportunities, an ever-growing facet of effective enforcement. “Crime is no longer local,” Dave said. “Criminals are networking. We have to do likewise.”
An Aug. 29 orientation from 8 a.m. to noon will give newly enrolled Criminal Justice candidates a closer look. Cooperating departments at CLC, including Financial Aid, will assist.
The new academic year starts Aug. 27. Gae Davis and Curtis Pribnow, full-time instructors, and adjunct instructors Andy Galles, Chad Turcotte, and Dave Davis (all full-time deputies with the CWCS Office) will welcome the new class and expect 40 or more to seek Skills certification.