University hires official director for local police academy

The University of Illinois Police Training Institute now has an official director after a month-long search, which concluded Friday.

Mike Schlosser was named director of the local police academy last week after filling the position as an interim director for about two years. He said he is excited about moving forward with the academy and building a stronger relationship with the University.

“Now the sky is the limit, and we’re going to forge ahead and work on not only training recruits, but also work hard on our new research component we’ve added to our academy.”

Schlosser succeeded Barbara O’Connor, a former chief of the University of Illinois Police Department, when he took over as interim director in 2012. He previously spent 20 years as a police officer with the Rantoul Police Department, and he also served as a police training specialist and the interim associate director under O’Connor at PTI.

The future of PTI was in question when Schlosser made the transition into interim director. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board voted not to certify PTI’s basic law enforcement class  in late March 2012, meaning any recruits who trained there would not be certified as police officers. At the same time, the academy was also facing a lack of support from the University after a 2010 budget review concluded that the institute did not fit the University’s academic mission and should not be subsidized by University funds.

Chuck Deakin, operations manager at PTI, has worked with Schlosser since he was first hired at PTI in December 2004. He credits Schlosser for helping keep the institute open when it faced pressure from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

“Dr. Schlosser came in, (along with) (Urbana Mayor) Laurel Prussing and (Senator) Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), and all of a sudden somebody just kind of went, ‘Time out. Let’s talk. Let’s get this thing going,’” he said. “A lot of the charge was led by Dr. Schlosser. He was instrumental in keeping PTI open.”

Since regaining its certification and coming to an agreement with the University, PTI has added a research component to its training, which brings the academy in line with the University’s academic mission.

Jeff Christensen, chief of UIPD, said one of Schlosser’s roles as director will be to serve as principle research investigator on the projects in which PTI is involved. He said Schlosser’s personality makes him a good fit for the job.

“His enthusiasm, his passion, coupled with his educational background and his knowledge and his humbleness, that’s Mike,” Christensen said.

Deakin also highlighted Schlosser’s leadership abilities as a strength he brings to the role.

“He’s not going to lie to you, he’s not going to blow smoke,” he said. “I think that’s where we really need it. We needed somebody that we could get along with and somebody who could show us some direction.”

Sari can be reached at [email protected] and @Sari_Lesk.