Police chiefs offer training center | News, Sports, Jobs

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro (right) speaks with Logan Township Police Chief Dave Reese at Altoona Town Hall on Tuesday. Mirror photo by William Kibler

Two local police chiefs on Tuesday proposed the creation of a regional law enforcement training center, following a closed-door discussion at Altoona City Hall with the Attorney General of State and candidate for governor Josh Shapiro.

Such a training center – ideally a police academy for new recruits, coupled with a continuing education school – would not only alleviate the costs of police training, but also relieve stress on candidates and officers and improve the quality of training. area police, according to Logan Township. Police Chief Dave Reese and Altoona Police Chief Joe Merrill.

Shapiro, who in June asked the General Assembly to allocate $ 28 million for law enforcement training, recruiting bonuses and crisis response, agreed to continue discussions on the possibility of helping fund such a center, officials said.

Shapiro promised he would continue the conversation about the feasibility of securing resources for the project, according to Reese and Merrill.

They envision a dedicated building with dedicated staff, possibly working in conjunction with a local university.

The training center would serve multiple counties, as there is currently no full-time facility between Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Harrisburg Area Community College – although there is one part-time in Johnstown. , they said.

A regional training center would save money by eliminating the need for accommodation and daily expenses for municipalities, Merrill said.

It would relieve stress for candidates, officers and their families as they could go home every evening.

And that would allow departments to do more training for more officers for the same price, Reese and Merrill said.

Instead of sending one to a specialty program in Harrisburg, he could send two or three to a local program, Merrill said.

Training is essential, according to elected city councilor Dave Ellis, who worked for many years in the GA office.

This is particularly critical given the focus on police behavior resulting from incidents like the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which resulted in murder charges against an officer, according to Ellis.

In the aftermath of such incidents, the training of an officer is the first issue that comes under scrutiny, Ellis said.

In general, training is essential for “Driving improvement”, Ellis said.

Altoona’s training program, especially its on-the-job training for new officers, is one of the best in the state and a model for Pennsylvania as it is built into the GA office procedures, Ellis said.

Pennsylvania Standards “far exceed” those of many other states, he said.

In Altoona five years ago, there were typically around 70 applicants for open officer positions, but now it’s about a quarter as many, Shapiro said, citing information provided by Merrill.

“We have to put the pool back in place” Merrill said.

Staffing levels are always an issue when looking to do more, Merrill said.

A minor element of the discussion with Shapiro concerned the possibility of regionalizing the police in the region through enhanced cooperation, according to city councilor Jesse Ickes and Ellis.

Mirror staff writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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