Police Academy Reports Largest Enrollment


The NMU Police Academy, with its largest class on record of 49, got a rare training opportunity during President Bush’s visit to Marquette. Many of the cadets assisted other law enforcement agencies with crowd and traffic control at Sawyer International Airport, in the City of Marquette, and at the Superior Dome.


“We had another surprise assignment last year with the flood,” said Mike Bath (Public Safety and Police Services). “When they shut down the north side of Marquette, we posted cadets at road intersections to help keep people out and redirect them.

"It made sense to have them help out, especially since we couldn’t meet in Jacobetti because it was closed during the flooding. It’s nice to be able to give them some different training experience as opportunities come up and a president coming to town is about as big as it gets here.”


According to Ken Chant (Public Safety and Police Services), the academy was established in the early 1970s, when it became a requirement in Michigan that police officers be certified. The training was first offered by the Division of Continuing Education and shifted to the Department of Criminal Justice later that decade. In the early 1980s, the academy was switched to a “track program,” which was discontinued in the early 90s. Chant said the Public Safety Institute received permission from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards to re-establish the Regional Police Academy in 1995. The 16-week session is offered each May, allowing applicants to complete 12 credits toward an associate degree in law enforcement.


“It’s a state requirement that you have an associate degree after completion of the academy,” Bath said. “Most of our cadets are putting themselves through the academy this way. There are two other ways to get in. One is through a military waiver. If you serve in the military police for any branch of the service for at least a year, it waives the education requirement. The other way is to be sponsored by an agency that has hired you and pays your way to the academy as well as a wage while you’re here. That’s pretty rare – only three of the current cadets fit that category.”


The program provides more than 800 hours of training, which exceeds the 562 hours mandated by the state. It covers topics such as legal aspects, patrol procedures, defensive tactics, firearms, precision driving, first aid/CPR, investigations, and crime scene preservation.


“We also add 40 hours of scenario-based training where we use actors to demonstrate various situations they might encounter on the job,” Bath added. “It might be a domestic violence incident, a bar argument or a drunk-driving traffic stop. We have almost 50 instructors involved. They range from prosecutors, judges, lawyers and current and retired law enforcement officers to defense attorneys who grill recruits on the stand in a mock trial. The idea is to throw as many real-life situations at them as we can. You have to engage the recruits by providing ‘hands-on’ training. The ability to provide training that applies the book work portion of the academy is critical.”


Those who complete the program are “certifiable” in most states. In this case, the word has a positive connotation. It means that the hiring department activates a graduate’s certification. When officers move, they are recertified by their new departments.


Bath said the nearest regional police academy that similarly caters to pre-service individuals is at Kirkland Community College in Roscommon.


“Some universities offer a track program as part of a four-year degree. There are six of those left. Otherwise, the Michigan State Police, City of Detroit Police and the DNR each run their own academies and hire exclusively from them.”


The 2004 class of the NMU Police Academy will graduate Aug. 20.



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Updated: July 27, 2004