It’s not hard to spot the parking lot full of police cars on a Saturday at Rend Lake College. Since the beginning of January, officers-in-training from across Southern Illinois have been making the trip to RLC every weekend to clock more hours at the Part-Time Police Academy.
The training is the result of a new partnership between RLC and the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, specifically the Southern Illinois Criminal Justice Training Program Mobile Team Unit (MTU) 15. In the past, MTU 15 offered the part-time academy trainings in Herrin, but began looking for a more centralized location.
Part of that search led MTU 15 Director Chuck Doan to the village of Ina at nearly the center of the region he serves, which covers more than two dozen counties between Effingham and Cairo.
“Our region covers 27 counties, everything south of Effingham, excluding parts of the Metro East. Rend Lake College is almost the geographic center of that region when looking at it from north to south,” said Doan. “I felt like, if we could do it nearer the geographic center, it would be best for all parties involved.”
That’s when MTU 15 Field Assistant Dave Rednour contacted the college, specifically Ron Meek, Criminal Justice Professor, and expressed interest in hosting the academy on a part-time basis.
While on campus, the Part-Time Police Academy meets in the Coal Mine Training Center on the west side of campus to utilize both classroom space and open areas for any practical, hands-on training. Trainees can also use the mock mine for low-light situations, the RLC Shooting Range for weapons training, and Waugh Gymnasium and the track for various needs.
The 9-month program requires the officers-in-training to do online work during the week and meet on RLC’s campus for an 8-hour day to cover hands-on, practical tactics. In the end, all officers will complete 560 hours in the academy.
Not only is the academy a good geographical move for MTU 15, but RLC students are already reaping some benefits. Meek explained the benefits for the college as a whole and for students in the criminal justice program are limitless.
“It’s a benefit for the college, as well as for them, because we get to use their specialized equipment while providing the space. Our campus is perfect for that,” said Meek. “They’ve hired some of our adjunct professors and other law enforcement professionals in the area to be instructors for them.”
He continued, “It’s a win-win. There are lots of opportunities for the academy students to get in and take our classes to continue their education. We’re also expanding our drone program to work on law enforcement specific programs.”
Meek said much of the credit for the partnership lands at the feet of RLC President Terry Wilkerson who gave the green light nearly six months ago.
“The college president was very forward-thinking about this and saw it as a good thing for Rend Lake College, our programs, and the training unit,” said Meek. “We provide them with a first-class training facility with everything they need, and we see benefits in return.”
To check out more photos from the Part-Time Police Academy, visit www.flickr.com/rendlakecollege.
Officers meet in the Coal Mine Training Center’s (CMTC) open space to discuss and practice hands-on exercises. The Part-Time Police Academy also uses classroom space and the mock mine in the CMTC.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)