Police Academy to offer streamlined program to veterans

Ellie Phillips

Grand Valley State University has been selected by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards as the first site in Michigan to launch a new Military Police Basic Training Program, which is designed to give military veterans seeking to join the civilian police an abbreviated licensing program. The program will run from June 24 to Aug. 6.

Only 10 states currently provide military police veterans with formal training that draws upon their military talents to create a smooth transition into civilian law enforcement.

The MPBTP will provide veterans who meet the eligibility requirements a six-week long ‘fast track’ form of traditional police academy training with the same areas of instruction. The program will include classroom settings and skill area training, and after six weeks, these veterans will be licensed to apply for employment at law enforcement agencies. They will also earn university-level credits while attending the program.

GVSU was chosen to pilot this program as its proposal to the MCOLES licensing board for law enforcement suited the needs of MCOLES more than the four other training sites in the state.

“There were concepts within the proposal that MCOLES felt were above and beyond minimum standards and would serve those enrolled in the program very well,” said Julie Yunker, administrator for the GVSU police academy. “MCOLES was the leader in this program—they wanted to recognize the experience that a person who has served in the military as a law enforcement officer could translate to civilian law enforcement…but felt that the traditional 16-week academy was too long.”

To facilitate this abbreviated program, MCOLES gathered information from military law enforcement training centers and from former military police now working in civilian law enforcement to create the best transitional education. The program’s goal is to create a smooth transition from military police into civilian policing, while recognizing the experience of the military police.

“From the way things work in the military, I think it’s very similar to the way things work in the police force,” said Justin Lewis, a GVSU student and former Marine. “I think the day-to-day life would be very similar.”

Yunker said she is excited to be part of this new program and expects it to have a positive impact on the GVSU community.

“Grand Valley is always looking for ways to serve students and this program is a great way to train civilian law enforcement officers who have military experience,” she said. “The graduates from the program may be employed by local law enforcement agencies and will bring their experience and training to the agency and the community they serve.”

She does not, however, expect the program to have much effect on enrollment or the curriculum in the criminal justice department, as she only anticipates 10 to 20 students to be in the new program.

These recruits will be enrolled in separate sections of the current traditional police academy recruits.

“Applications to the program are not due until May 1,” Yunker said. “The acceptance process will be complete by May 31 and the academy session will begin on June 24.”

Applications and additional information for the MPBTP are available on the GVSU police academy website at www.gvsu.edu/cj/policeacademy. For more information, contact Julie Yunker at 616-331-8515.

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