After looking over the past months public safety training news highlights it occurred to me that for every resounding success story there are equally disturbing ones. Carlsbad, California celebrates the grand opening of its fabulous new multi-disciplined training center and the New Jersey State Patrol reports record diversification in this year’s recruit applicants, while Central Arizona College , near Phoenix struggles to remain open.
Carlsbad, doing many things extremely well
In preparing this month’s newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genuinely deserve. Interact Business Group worked with facility staff and the police, fire and facilities departments over the past 12 months by helping them with their daily operations plan, staffing and budgets. I have come to learn firsthand how a forward thinking city like Carlsbad when working together can take a very limited sized site (around 4 acres) and create a first-class public safety training center. I would stop short of calling it world class because of their limited site and location – they did not have space for EVOC training. A nice sized grinder area will serve them well for maneuvering and driving tactic but speed is not an option for them.
Training site facing financial woes, may close
There are disturbing issues brewing at Central Arizona College (CAC) and its Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA).
It seems the nationally recognized training center is tittering on the edge of closer. Its last police recruit graduating class was July 2011. The school continues to work hard, with a very motivated staff and excellent reputation. The problem is pretty simple. Not enough students. In a recent article in the Maricopa Monitor by Susan Randall, James Moore CAC interim vice president for learning services summed it up. “The demand for certified officers has been dropping for some time,” When CARLOTA started in 1973, it was one of only three or four academies in Arizona, he said. There was demand from all over the state. Now there are 11 academies. In the article Georgia White, CAC’s former dean of professional and technical education said, “I think the biggest change, the tipping point, has been the economy.” AZPOST Executive director Lyle Mann said CARLOTA had a fine reputation, training more than 100 officers a year, but enrollment dropped because agencies stopped hiring. Arizona agencies hired 800 to 900 cadets a year in 2006 and 2007, he said. Then the economy slowed, and they hired only 300 to 400 in 2009 and 2010.
New Jersey – 8,500 Very Qualified Candidates.
On the east coast the contrast from Arizona could not be more pronounced. The statistics are well, staggering. Recently reported by NJTODAY.NET, more than 12,000 men and women submitted online applications, the most in any New Jersey State Police recruiting drive. More than 9,600 of them met all the initial qualifications and 8,500 scheduled themselves to take the Physical Qualification Test (PQT), which is the current phase of the process. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the diversity composition of the applicants. NJTODAY.net reports the applicant pool entering the PQT is very strong, with 19% Hispanic, 15% Black, 14% female, 3% Asian, and 2% listing two or more categories. By comparison, the last recruiting process, held in early 2010, resulted in approximately 5,200 applicants moving into the PQT phase with 15% being Hispanic, 11% Black, and 9% female. The PQT is the first step. Applicants passing the PQT will take a written exam, those passing the written will then move into background checks, then medical and psychological examinations. There is a rough target to graduate 250 total troopers in 2013 as a part of the 152nd and 153rd State Police classes.
What does it mean; Grand Opening, Tittering on Closure and Record Turnouts? I don’t have an answer. The old adage went something like this, “There will always be crime and there will always be fires. So get a job at the force or the department and you’ll never be out of work.” The first part is true but the rules of the second part have truly changed. Today there are many new lexicons in public safety; Just for fun Google “Fire Department Brownouts”- the search yields over 14,000 hits. Or try “police department cuts” and Google brings back over 31,000 hits. The bad guys are still out there and fires still destroy lives and property. I guess the only advice I have comes from my old high school football coach. “Shut-up, buckle up, get in there and do your job. You’re on the first string and there is no second string.”
Oscar Perez/Casa Grande Dispatch, Apache Junction police officers simulate a pursuit during a driving certification in June at the Central Arizona College CARLOTA test track