U-Maine Presque Isle Program Lets Students Take Police Officer Course Locally
Northern Maine students took part in a law enforcement training course that prepares them to work as part-time police officers, without having to travel to the Police Academy in Vassalboro, through a collaboration between the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
The Law Enforcement Pre-Service course, LEPS for short, is a 3-phase training program through the MCJA that certifies participants to work part-time as police officers in the state, or full-time for up to one year.
UMPI Community Relations Director Rachel Rice says Phase I of LEPS is a 40-hour online curriculum. Students must also pass the ALERT test for reading and writing comprehension and a physical test before starting Phase II.
Phase II is an 80-hour in-class curriculum. U-Maine Presque Isle officials delivered this course on campus during the spring semester in a two-night-per-week format. Rice says this is the first time LEPS Phase II has been delivered in this way in the state since the MCJA moved to a 200-hour curriculum. Typically, students complete Phase II in a concentrated two-week course at the MCJA in Vassalboro.
Four individuals passed Phase II of the LEPS [Law Enforcement Pre-Service course] earlier this year after it was delivered on the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus; three of them are UMPI students. The participants were able to take part in the course locally because of a collaboration between UMPI and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. From left to right are: Jay Blackstone, a local teacher; Eric Depner, a UMPI Criminal Justice major; Matthew Brown, a Business/Recreation major; and Kyle MacCallum, a Criminal Justice major.
Fred Thomas, UMPI Manager of Safety, Security and Regulatory Compliance, was integral in working with the MCJA to bring the course to Presque Isle and coordinating logistics. He organized weekly presenters who were certified instructors with the Academy to deliver the curriculum.
Jim Lyman, Director of Curriculum Delivery at the MCJA, visited campus this spring to deliver the final Phase II test. Officials says it was good to deliver Phase II in this way because it opens doors not just for students in the region, but also for people looking to change careers and who do not have the ability to go to the Academy for two weeks.
During his visit, Lyman also delivered the ALERT test to a dozen people, seven of whom were UMPI students.
Rice says the four Phase II students passed their final exam with flying colors. They then began working with local police departments to complete Phase III, which is 80 hours of supervised field training.
Dr. Lisa Leduc, UMPI Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, says there's a huge need for part-time and full-time certified officers in the state, and in Aroostook County especially, where many small departments rely on reserve or part-time officers. She says the University hopes to run the training again next year with a bigger class.