New director appointment signifies revival for Police Training Institute

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The Police Training Institute has had a history of being in limbo with the University. Top administrators need to show their support now more than ever for one of the country’s largest and longest-serving (since 1955) police academies in the United States.

Up until now, the institute had truly fought for its place at this University. What the PTI needed wasn’t another resolution in its favor, or more cash. It needed a permanent director — one whose commitment could help revive this once-endangered facet of the University. 

In 2010, a Stewarding Excellence budget review found that the PTI didn’t fit the University’s mission and should not be subsidized by University funds. It delivered a similar grim outlook for the Institute of Aviation. 

“It is with considerable sadness that we arrive at a decision to take the necessary steps to close PTI no later than Dec. 31, 2011,” then-Chancellor Robert Easter, current University president, and then-Provost Richard Wheeler said in the Stewarding Excellence report. Although the amount of money fluctuated throughout the years, the University was providing PTI with $900,000 from the University’s General Revenue Fund at the time of the report.

In 2011, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board voted to establish a police training facility on Western Illinois University’s campus, but this plan never came to fruition. Although campus officials denied that the new facility was designed to replace the PTI at the University, it seemed clear that the plans to establish the new academy arose from the University’s decision to eventually close the PTI.

The following year, the board voted against certifying PTI’s basic law enforcement class, which meant recruits couldn’t be certified as police officers.

But the institute is now making a comeback.

After spending about two years in the interim role, Michael Schlosser was named the institute’s director, signifying the University’s commitment to the permanence of the PTI. 

Schlosser’s appointment as director was the first glimpse of stability the institute has seen in years. 

More significant than any press release or crafted statement, Schlosser’s appointment shows that the University is willing to make a commitment to a leadership position. The University clearly wants to provide structure and authority within an institution that is both unique and essential to this campus.

Schlosser engineered the University’s agreement with the state’s training and standards board and also found a way to negate the biggest criticism of the institute — that the PTI is not in line with the core academic mission of the University — by allowing the board and the University to guide academic research on law enforcement and criminal justice issues at the academy.

Three years ago, former University President Michael Hogan said the University would like to keep its brand on the institute, expressing a bit of optimism a year after the initial decision to close the University’s PTI.

“So if we’re going to sustain that program, we need additional resources somewhere, and we need some assurances that if we’re going to run it as an academic program, we’re going to run it as an academic program, not somebody else,” Hogan said.

Now it has a leader to do so.