Program on the 'cutting edge'

CMC course prepares people to enter law enforcement

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— Starting on Monday, Colorado Mountain College will once again provide law enforcement training for residents interested in becoming a police officer.

Since 1994, the police academy at the CMC campus has been preparing people to enter the law enforcement field.

The way the college has been able to do this is unique, said Olive Morton, the college's director of community education.

First, the college offers the course so people can take the course part time.

"Our students are mostly adults in the community who want to take the course on a part-time basis," Morton said. "At other academies, it is 16 straight weeks of training."

To provide the course on a part-time basis, the class meets twice a week for three hours each for a year.

This year the class will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. It will also include some weekends for firearm, driving and arrest training, she said.

The second feature that makes the CMC program unique is the college does not employ one full-time instructor. The college relies on professionals who work within the field to teach the different aspects of law enforcement.

"We feel the professionals we have teach are on the cutting edge," Morton said.

Basic law is taught by Kerry St. James and Charles Feldmann, who are both lawyers who work as prosecutors for the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Firearms instruction is given by experts within the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

Veteran Steamboat Springs Detective Robert DelValle teaches the chapter on criminal investigation procedures.

Driving instruction is provided by Colorado State Trooper Brad Keadle.

Steamboat Springs Police Officer Dwight Murphy teaches students about traffic control procedures and Pat Rooney focuses on communication.

The only instructor not from the Yampa Valley is Glenn Schaffer, who is a police officer in Aspen.

"Glenn has community ties and travels every year to teach the students about making arrests," Morton said.

The law enforcement training has been a benefit for local law enforcement agencies, Morton said.

Former students who went on to pass the state certification test include Pua Utu, Dale Coyner and Nicholas Bosick, who are all police officers for Steamboat Springs.

"It is good (CMC) provides this training locally," said J.D. Hays, public safety director for Steamboat Springs. "If they didn't provide it, people would have to travel hundreds of miles. Prior to the academy here, people generally went to schools on the Front Range.

"It affords the opportunity to people who want to get the education locally."

In the course's history, the students are mostly local, but some students have traveled from as far as Granby and Walden to take the course, Morton said.

"This really has been a successful program," she said. "The rate we have been able to put people in local jobs has been phenomenal."

The course is approved by the Colorado State Department and follows guidelines set by the state Attorney General's Office.

Once students graduate from the course, they must pass a state test to become a certified police officer, she said.

The course was started in a joint effort between CMC and the late Ed Burch, who served one term as sheriff of Routt County.

"Ed Burch wanted this course to be offered to train reserve officers," Morton said. "All of the agencies in Routt County have been supportive of the program."

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