Rural law enforcement officers will see the benefits of a $1.3 million grant awarded to the University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC) by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). LEIC plans to use the funds to establish a rural law enforcement training center, which will launch this fall.
“With the support from University of Tennessee and our talented team, the Law Enforcement Innovation Center has built a solid reputation across the country,” said LEIC Executive Director Rick Scarbrough. “We deliver quality, consistent and current world-class training. We are honored to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and with their confidence in extending this award to us.”
LEIC’s goals for the center are to meet the training needs of rural law enforcement agencies from across the country, using instructor-led and distance-based learning technologies to decrease course delivery costs; and to develop and implement training practices and modules that can be used to alleviate the cost and travel burden on law enforcement agencies. A 2018 report released by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that rural law enforcement agencies make up nearly half (48 percent) of all local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Small departments lack funds for officer training and cannot afford to give officers time away from the department for training purposes. When an officer is away at training, another officer must cover the shift. The agency then incurs overtime costs or shortage of staff. Attending training for rural agencies is a real challenge, both financially and operationally.
Overall, the COPS Office announced almost $8 million in funding to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement. Community Policing Development (CPD) program funds help develop the capacity of law enforcement to implement community policing by providing guidance on promising practices through the development and testing of innovative strategies; building knowledge about effective practices and outcomes; and supporting new, creative approaches to preventing crime and promoting safe communities.
“One of the top priorities of the Department of Justice is to keep communities safe from violent crime,” said COPS Office Director and former Knoxville Police Chief Phil Keith. “The two grant programs will promote promising best practices to advance community policing, which is a proven public safety approach, and provide much-needed training against active shooters, which remain a constant threat to the citizens of this great country.” The COPS Office also announced a grant under the Preparing for Active Shooter Situations program at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University.
Susan Robertson, UT Institute for Public Service
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