Training classes under way at PTI

After two years of contention surrounding the survival of the Police Training Institute, instructors and recruits are now halfway through their first month.

Basic training classes began Sept. 10 at the institute, and Michael Schlosser, interim director, said he is pleased to see the PTI open again.

“I think everyone realized the importance of our historical academy,” he said. “That very first week, I walk in the classroom and I see all these young, eager students ready to learn about police work — it was a very exciting time for me and a very exciting time for the Police Training Institute.”

The institute underwent a few changes and has updated its classrooms’ technology this year. Changes to PTI include remodeled classrooms, access for each recruit to a laptop computer provided by the training board and a University e-mail address and new methods of writing reports and feedback through an online format.

Officer Michael Unander of the University Police Department said his classes are better than he expected due to the technological improvements.

“Nobody likes to sit through eight hours a day of any kind of classroom,” he said. “(We) have kind of gotten into a lot of interaction and interactive scenarios. It makes it a lot easier to take that information and learn how to put that into practice.”

Schlosser said over the past few years, student attendance at the academy decreased, which decreased the PTI’s budget.

“A lot of the money we rely on for the Police Training Institute comes from the police recruit tuition to attend our academy,” he said. “Years ago, we would have the class sizes the size of 60 to 90 students.”

As a graduated student of the institute, Sgt. Ken Palmer of the Livingston County Sheriff Department is a part-time instructor at the academy. He said he is glad to have the opportunity to teach students at the PTI.

“It makes me feel real good knowing that there still is a calling for law enforcement officers, and younger people in the community want to get out to serve and protect,” Palmer said. “It gives me great joy graduating from PTI, and getting hired on as a part-time instructor was like a crowning jewel in my career.”

The two-year struggle to find funding ended July 9, when the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board and the University came to an agreement to establish the PTI as a training and research institute. The University had stated two years earlier that it could no longer afford to subsidize the PTI since it did not connect with the University’s educational mission.

Carina can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @clee0118.