As federal budget cuts begin, the recently revamped International Law Enforcement Academy in Roswell isn’t expected to feel any pain.
ILEA Roswell’s new program manager, Myron Golden of BlueLaw International, said the program will “probably not be directly affected by the sequestration.” The campus ushered in several changes recently and is in the middle of instituting a new graduate-level agenda.
But the future might be less bright, according to Luis Diaz-Rodriguez, of the Criminal Justice Programs Division for the State Department.
“We’re fine, at least for now,” Diaz-Rodriguez said. “It might be that the decision is made that the department won’t fund it (in the future). In that case, the doors will shut and everyone will go home. But I know we have a lot of support and the Department of State is highly committed to this program. It has support from the highest levels.”
ILEA Roswell changed directions after awarding a $9.175 million contract to BlueLaw International LLC last year.
The Roswell program switched its mission in September and began providing specialized management courses in criminal justice, legal and regulatory workshop facilitation, and criminal policy program development and facilitation.
“The academy has been in operation for a number of years, but it was more operational or tactical in nature,” Golden said Wednesday, during a weeklong visit to the campus. “It is only since our reopening that we have the graduate-level courses that focus more on international crime.
“The whole purpose of the ILEA graduate program is to promote international cooperation among law enforcement agencies,” Golden said. “A majority of crime today is cross-border crime. It doesn’t respect boundaries of countries.”
The academy expects to graduate 10 sessions per year, with 35 students attending each.
The new graduate-level curriculum has, so far, attracted several interested students. One recent session catered to all female delegates from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, who were women in high-ranking law enforcement positions.
“We’ve so far conducted four programs,” Golden said. “We’ve found a lot of receptivity to them. The quality of people who attend has been impressive to me and others in the program.”
Each student group attends a three-week criminal justice course, followed by a one-week forum tailored to their needs. The forums are on anti-corruption policy, women in law enforcement, cyber crime, model laws or other specific subjects.
Diaz-Rodriguez has monitored the ILEA programs since doors opened in 2001.
“We felt, because the regional program started in 2001, we needed to refocus the program and change from what we used to call advanced-management courses,” Diaz-Rodriguez said. “Like any other enterprise, you have to freshen up. If we don’t do that, it’s going to become stale.”
The 40-station computer lab was updated with new equipment. The updated campus also has a peaceful “place of tranquility” for delegate students to meet for breaks, surrounded by a flowing water feature and outdoor light.
Students at the high-tech campus this week sat in classrooms with headphones, listening to English-speaking instructors as specialists sitting in glass-encased rooms translated lessons, questions and answers for them. In one anti-corruption program class, students from the Dominican Republic and Paraguay sat together learning how to run an investigation.
Attendance is coveted at the Roswell ILEA. Those who do graduate can now stay in touch with new systems and share information. Several positive changes have come from the five ILEAs worldwide and their nearly 60,000 graduates, Diaz-Rodriguez said.
“The graduates that we have followed the careers of have become ministers of interiors, chiefs of police, advisors to presidents and so on,” he said. “It’s a prestigious thing to come to the Roswell program.”
The graduates have used the training to stop criminal activity from entering the U.S., officials say.
“They have actually stopped much of it from coming through our society,” Diaz-Rodriguez said. “So it’s money well spent. These individuals have thwarted terrorist plans and have made a tremendous impact. How do you measure that? We have prevented crime. We have improved the lives of people in their own countries.”
The students who attend also get to experience Roswell and surrounding sites. The shuttle buses to retail establishments, interactions with museums, the Chamber of Commerce, military community, senior citizens, outreach with Job Corps and home visits help them mix with the region.
But not all who want to attend make it in.
“Everyone in this program has already participated in training by the U.S. government,” Golden said. “It mitigates the vetting process. We have to be careful who comes to the U.S. now. There are some who don’t make it.”