Board adopts changes for NM police academy

September 12, 2013 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — [auth] The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy will use a new curriculum that shortens basic police officer training to 16 weeks from the current 22, a change that officials said will help agencies around the state get their new officers trained and on the street faster.

The academy’s board unanimously approved the new state-mandated curriculum during a meeting Wednesday.

The next basic training academy will begin in January. Classes are limited to 50 cadets. The academy is run by the state Department of Public Safety.

The curriculum is being changed to reflect discussions ongoing since 2009 on how to delete redundancy in areas, Academy Director Jack Jones told the Albuquerque Journal ( ).

Also, some specialized kinds of training such as advanced interviewing techniques will be eliminated as unnecessary for rookie officers.

“These guys are going to be basic police officers,” Jones said. “This is a basic police academy, and that’s what this curriculum is for, not to produce premiere accident reconstructionists or elite murder investigators.”

Jones said the academy’s nine satellite training facilities and departments with their own training programs may choose to run longer academy classes, as long as they meet the state mandated requirements.

The Albuquerque Police Department said it has no plans to shorten its 26-week academy.

One specific training block, on critical incident management, will be eliminated from the state-mandated curriculum. That training includes how to set up a command post for a natural disaster or plane crash.

“That’s more a function of a supervisor,” said Angie Byrd, director of the Southeast New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in Hobbs. “That’s not the kind of basic police work we’re looking at for the academy.”

Byrd was among those who examined the curriculum to identify areas of training that could be eliminated

“We were looking at why we were teaching certain things over and over and over again,” she said. “We had complaints from cadets and from some of the agencies about redundancies. We’re not losing our high standards with these changes, we’re just training in a more efficient, effective way.”

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