HBCU Lincoln University to Open Police Academy to Recruit More Black Police Officers
Posted By: Will Moss on October 27, 2020 |
The nation's first law enforcement basic training academy at a Historically Black College and University might be launched at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Lincoln University has been granted preliminary approval to establish the training academy after a unanimous vote by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission.
The decision came after a Monday meeting where the POST Commission publicly discussed the results of a survey on law enforcement training in Missouri they garnered more than 2,000 responses.
The proposed training academy would be Missouri’s 20th and the nation’s first at a Historically Black College and University.
Lincoln University said the academy could have a far-reaching impact as it seeks to attract minority law enforcement recruits to a residential program at an academic institution.
“Minority recruitment is probably the most difficult thing right now,” POST Commissioner and Springfield Police Department Chief Paul Williams said. “While Springfield had previously had African American officers in the past, there were none when I took the chief’s position. It took eight years to build up to five black officers.”
Professor Joe Steenbergen said the Lincoln University Law Enforcement Training Academy recruitment efforts would focus on potential students, current students, and working-class adults from minority communities.
We have great police academies with our state ... the problem, if there is a problem is the recruiting of minorities this is not a lack of trying it's a lack of access minorities have to go to a full-time police academy.
Steenbergen recruitment would be fairly easy for them as the vast majority of their Lincoln University students are minorities.
The recruits would be enrolled full-time in the academy during their last semester of school, regardless if they earn a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree.
He noted it would be an 18-credit program, and recruits would complete 800 hours of training.
The recruits would live on-campus and the program would be a part of their tuition.
"Those kids are mentored by us the whole time, they've chosen and they're recruited by us to go to our school," he said.
"I trie to find every police academy in the state and get a picture of their graduating class I come up with 250 plus or minus graduates ... 14 were African Americans, so that's less than one percent of graduates in our state is African American."
Lincoln University is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and Steenbergen said of the 107 registered HBCU's none of them have a police academy program.
He said this program would give the school a competitive edge against the other HBCU's in the country.
Steenbergen said all they need is about 8 recruits to run their program, and estimates they could see around 14 in their first class.
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler spoke at the meeting in support of the new police academy on Lincoln's campus.
I support this 110 percent, right now we have issues between law enforcement and minorities and this is not something new this has been going on for a long time there's no law that's going to pass that's going to fix this ... the way to fix it is through diversity and training.
Since they received preliminary approval, the POST Manager Jeremy Spratt said the commission will now have to complete a site visit of the facility including firearms training, defensive tactics, and driving instruction, and will review lesson plans and a list of proposed instructors.
Spratt said after all of that is completed they will bring back a report to the next POST commission meeting, which will include their findings.
"From there the POST commission will then make a recommendation to Director Karsten of whether Lincoln University should be issued a basic training center license," Spratt said.
Director Karsten would then make a decision, and if approved the university would be given a one-year probational basic training center license.
Spratt said the commission will then complete an onsite audit, report back to Director Karsten, and then she will decide if their license will be renewed for a full three years or deny the application.
Steenbergen added they will do everything in their power not to affect the local academy's recruiting process.
Sheriff Wheeler said he doesn't think the academy at Lincoln will affect other students at other academies.
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