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Law enforcement academy resumes

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The law enforcement academy at the Technical College of the Rockies is up and running again, six months after losing POST certification.

The Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) board, the governing body for law enforcement, suspended the academy last fall. While it normally takes up to a year for recertification, academy director Dave Stassen said, "We busted our butts and got it done."

Classes started Monday with 12 students, 10 males and two females. Class size is about average, said Stassen, and includes five students sponsored by local law enforcement agencies.

The academy uses a number of local law enforcement officers to lead 52 different classes over a 16-week period. Classes cover all aspects of law enforcement, from driving, shooting and arrest control, to basic principles of law, leadership, biohazard awareness and traffic crash documentation. Students practice active shooter scenarios, building searches and traffic stops. They also learn how to investigate computer crimes. Every aspect of instruction has been updated.

"The quality of education these students will receive is second to none," said Stassen, a retired Grand Junction police sergeant. "Since the law enforcement academy is technically the newest POST facility in the state, we know our academics and skills curricula are the current best practices recommended by the state."

The Delta County Sheriff's Office is one of the sponsoring agencies. Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said his office is paying for a detention officer with two years of experience to go through the academy, and will do the same for any employee with the same work ethic and commitment to the sheriff's office. The student must agree to serve with the sheriff's office for three years or reimburse the office for the cost of education.

The Delta Police Department has a similar policy, but is not sponsoring a student in this session. But with a nationwide shortage of law enforcement officers, Chief Luke Fedler said the wave of the future may mean finding the right person from the community and sponsoring them to go through the academy, rather than waiting for the right applicant to come along. "That's how we're going to get our good recruits," he predicted.

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