Making the Grade

 

Written by Matt Montgomery in the August 2009 Issue

“Move, move! Get off my grass!” yells Edmond, Oklahoma police officer Kyle Stoy to 10 newly inducted police academy cadets as part of a commencement ceremony held Monday, July 20 at the Edmond Police Training Facility. The 10 officers dressed in formal attire were taking part in an honorary salute to the flag. Then, Stoy blows the whistle and commands them to run up the sidewalk to their training classroom.

Police Chief Bob Ricks says the culture of Edmond, Oklahoma, especially with respect to the police department, is one of trustworthy service and admiration. “This means that we’ll be there when you call us. When you need us, we’re going to be there,” Ricks says.

He says the Edmond, Oklahoma police department has a higher level of service than almost any other police department in the greater Oklahoma City area. “The city of Edmond expects to have a low-crime environment. They expect the best, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The overall mission of the academy is to inculcate the trainees from day one, and to incorporate them into the Edmond way of life. “It’s a special responsibility to be a member of the Edmond Police Department,” says Ricks.

The academy’s looking for a special breed of people to become police officers. Not just anyone can make the cut. “We’re looking for people of good and high character,” says Ricks. “People with common sense, people who understand that they serve the community and that they’re only here because of the taxes paid by the city of Edmond.”

Because this academy is an in-house academy, it will financially benefit Edmond, Oklahoma. “We don’t have to re-train officers who come from other programs. We have them from the very beginning, and the fact that we keep them in Edmond throughout the entire training process saves the taxpayers money,” Ricks says.

He says the FBI, along with The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office, volunteered to help facilitate the training process. These applicants are highly sought after, and if one makes it, then they take a very privileged position that many have tried to attain but haven’t been so lucky. “We’re trying to build the best police department in Oklahoma.”

The 10 inductees were hand-selected from a group of 100 that endured a grueling 20-week training program, says Sgt. Jeff Richardson, one of the lead coordinators of the Edmond Police Training Facility. He says this is an exciting opportunity for these new recruits because they get newly enhanced training and don’t have to leave the city of Edmond, Oklahoma in the process. “We’ve beefed up our training program in ethics training, driver training, firearms training, self-defense training, radar-certification, taser-certification, and all of the state-mandated training, plus an additional 140 hours of extra training that the state doesn’t provide.”

He says there are a lot of people applying to become Edmond, Oklahoma police officers, so the demand for officers isn’t necessarily high. The Edmond police department maintains a one and a half to 1000 person ratio of police officers to civilians, which equates to 116 officers working on the force right now.

Richardson says in July of 2008 that the state of Oklahoma changed the law that allows the Edmond, Oklahoma police department to have its own academy. “Ever since CLEET moved to Ada, it hasn’t been cost-effective for the Edmond police department to send people down there.”

CLEET is The Council of Law Enforcement and Education Training. It mandates training for all police officers in the state. Because the Edmond police department is one of only a few facilities in the state that have branched away from CLEET, the benefits it will see are large.

“The biggest benefit of the separation between us and CLEET is that the officers get trained the way we want them to be trained from day one,” Richardson says. “In these 20 weeks we’re able to produce officers who are far more certified and better qualified to become police officers in Edmond. We’re now one of seven police departments in the state who get to do what we do, and that’s having our own academy.”

Some of the new recruits include former Oklahoma county Assistant District Attorney Robert Gray, former OSU police officer Brad Griffin, whose father is a retired Edmond, Oklahoma police officer, and former Louisiana Monroe College football player Kyle Cunningham.

For more information about the academy, visit the Edmond, Oklahoma police department’s website at edmondok.com/safety/police. 

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