CORAOPOLIS, Pa. (Feb. 16, 2017) --
The 171st Air Refueling Wing Security Force members are utilizing a recently passed benefit from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to graduate from a local police academy.
Military police officers as well as federal law officers may seek a waiver of training for Municipal Police Officers’ Education in accordance with Act 165 of 2012. Upon successful completion, participants may take the state certification exam to become municipal police officers in Pennsylvania.
Act 165 allows qualified military applicants to complete an abbreviated course. This is due to the rigorous training they receive from their military service. Instead of the roughly 800 hours that non-qualified cadets receive, Act 165 allows qualified military police officers to complete the course in 295 hours.
“This is a great opportunity for our members,” said Tech Sgt. Christopher R. LaPearle, Security Forces 171st ARW Security Forces Advantor Administrator. “But since the legislation was fairly new, most local Municipal Police Academies were unaware of it or were not able to accommodate us. Indiana University of Pennsylvania stepped-up and worked with our members to make it a reality.”
According to LaPearle, other programs have since adapted their programs to allow members under Act 165 to participate. The difference is IUP is a stand-alone program. Other academies schedule Act 165 participants with other cadets.
It takes roughly a year to cover the 800 hours of instruction to graduate from a program. It runs Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm. Act 165 members attend classes they need and are able to miss the classes that cover content they have already received. Though they will only partake in roughly 20% of the required classes, it will still take them a year to pass the course.
IUP enacted a program that allows all eligible Act 165 members to take a separate class. The classes were on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Sunday. This allowed full-time employees at the base to partake in the classes. Also, it only takes three and a half months to graduate, unlike a year in other programs.
“IUP stepped up and accepted us without hesitation when Act 165 became law,” exclaimed LaPearle. “They accepted our members fully and they have been a great partner throughout the process.”
The first graduating class of this stand-alone program was Dec 8, 2015. Out of the 16 graduates, 13 students were from the 171st ARW. The second class had eight 171st Security Force members pass the course in November 2016. IUP plans on having a course begin this spring. LaPearle, who also serves as IUP’s Director of the Waiver Program, believes at least 20 members from his unit will enroll.
The course is not only beneficial to the military members, but LaPearle has heard directly how it benefits the local communities.
“I have talked to four chiefs from local police departments who have hired 171st members,” said LaPearle. “They have given many accolades at how good of a job our Security Force members are performing as local police officers!”
LaPearle is hopeful this partnership will continue for the foreseeable future.
“This is a good situation for us and the local communities,” said LaPearle. “Our members greatly benefit from this opportunity and then use their learned skills and help local communities.”
With 20 members joining next class, the program is doing well.