State shutters police training academy, cuts positions

By Mark Gillispie - Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohio’s police training academy will no longer offer advanced training to law enforcement officers at a facility outside Columbus, a move that will leave 39 employees looking for jobs.

Attorney General Dave Yost in a statement on Friday said advanced police training in Ohio was being revamped and will be held in regions throughout the state. He said the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London has not been self-supporting financially for more than a decade, but did not mention that positions would be cut.

“Law enforcement deserves the best education and training we can offer and our current structure falls short,” Yost said. “This redesign means better, more thorough training.”

Attorney General spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said Tuesday that Yost’s office would work with OPOTA employees, who include training officers, clerks, administrators and deputy directors, to apply for other positions for which they qualify.

Gwen Callender, executive director of the Columbus-based Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council, decried how 27 police training officers were told they no longer had jobs and were immediately locked out of their computers and offices.

“The way the Attorney General abruptly got rid of these employees was a poor recognition of their loyalty to OPOTA and we believe disrespectful,” Callender said.

Advance training in areas such as fingerprinting, firearms and evidence collection will be held regionally by agencies and instructors certified to teach those classes. Yost said five or fewer students were enrolled in dozens of classes held last year at the academy roughly 28 miles (45 kilometers) west of downtown Columbus.

McCorkle said the decision to revamp training was not a direct result of COVID-19, but the pandemic “exacerbated the issue.”

The London academy also will no longer hold certification testing for new police officers, said Fayette County Sheriff and OPOTA chairman Vernon Stanforth. That testing will instead be done at regional sites as well, he said.

The academy is developing software for advanced training that officers can review online at their leisure, Stanforth said.

“The idea is to keep folks close to home and keep costs down,” Stanforth said.

By Mark Gillispie

Associated Press