Agencies collaborate to train law enforcement locally

Local law enforcement agencies will have the opportunity to train newly hired personnel in Cochise County this fall, thanks to a partnership between Cochise College and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.

The agencies are in the planning stages of a 17-week Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) Academy to be held at the college’s Douglas Campus. The Southeast Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy at Cochise College will train up to 20 agency-appointed personnel, who will live on the campus and travel to county facilities for specific training.

“The college is pleased to be part of this effort to support the health and safety of our local communities,” said college President JD Rottweiler. “Providing this type of educational opportunity is exactly why county residents opted to establish a community college in the 1960s, and we’re thankful to our partners for the resources and enthusiasm they are bringing to the table.”

Local law enforcement agencies previously sent trainees out of the county. However, the rising cost of doing so has created an immediate need, and recent contributions to county entities for the purpose of supporting law enforcement have positioned the partners to begin discussions about more affordable alternatives.

For example, a bequest to the college by the late Frank E. Peterson, a former Sheriff’s Office lieutenant, provides scholarships for administration of justice students and law enforcement personnel. Substantial contributions to the Sheriff’s Office have also funded equipment and facilities.

“I want to thank Cochise College for their absolute willingness and dedication to bring AZPOST training to Cochise County,” said Sheriff Mark Dannels. “As we look for ways to hire exceptional personnel who are closely affiliated with our county and the critical partnerships that are forged while working together in a professional development process, we have a recipe for success in this endeavor.”

Local law enforcement agencies will provide equipment and officers to teach the first academy. Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Wilson will serve as class sergeant, and college faculty Tim Seguin is academy director. Participants will also train at the Larry A. Dever Memorial Firing Range and the Defensive Tactics Room, both Sheriff’s Office facilities. Plans are being finalized with a local venue to be used as a defensive driving training facility.

“Too often we are forced to rely on outside jurisdictions for a multitude of assistance, and this is one way to bring our focus back to Cochise County and train according to our highest standards and to focus more on unique law and legal issues in rural areas,” Dannels said. “Our graduates will be the measure of our success and we are confident that we will achieve this goal.”

Arizona law enforcement agencies are required to hire personnel who have attended a 17-week training academy or who have been certified as a law enforcement officer in another state and can pass a challenge test to become an officer in Arizona. The academy kicking off on September 4 will be limited to personnel appointed by law enforcement agencies, and the college is exploring an academy that would be open to other students and include an associate’s degree option.