Fort Leonard Wood MPs obtain Missouri POST certification
May 2, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- When your profession is law enforcement, the most important question you will ever be asked is, "Are you POST certified?"
The 787th Military Police Battalion has partnered with the University of Missouri-Columbia's Law Enforcement Training Institute in order for their military police to obtain certification from the Missouri Department of Public Safety's Peace Officer Standards and Training program.
"We are seeking opportunities for training and education in our profession as policemen. 'Military police' says it all -- we are Soldiers first and foremost; however, we are responsible for providing law enforcement and the rule of law wherever we find ourselves in this uncertain world -- that's what our Army expects," said Lt. Col. Randall Thrash, 787th MP Bn. commander. "It is imperative we find new and creative ways to enhance our knowledge, skills and abilities as military police, and teaming up with the University of Missouri Law Enforcement Training Institute is just one new and innovative way of doing that."
William Stephens, senior instructor for the Law Enforcement Training Institute for the University of Missouri-Columbia, has been a law enforcement instructor for almost 30 years and is helping 787th MP Bn. drill sergeants and cadre prepare to take the POST examination.
"(Military police) duties and jurisdictions often overlap with civilian policing. This is an Army base, but this is an open Army base, so we have a lot of issues that start outside and end up inside or inside and end up outside," Stephens said. "It's really good for them to have the same knowledge and same knowledge base of all the statutory laws in the state of Missouri as would a civilian law enforcement officer."
Stephens said the POST examination is a 200-question exam, which tests students on constitutional law, Missouri statutory law, traffic law, ethics and professionalism, domestic violence, human behavior, patrol issues, jail population management, traffic accident and law enforcement, criminal investigation, offense investigation, report writing, juvenile justice and procedures, first responder, defensive tactics, firearms and the fundamentals of law enforcement driving.
"This covers practically every facet of information that would be taught in an academy. Half of that or two-thirds of that or three-quarters of that might be covered in a military
police academy," Stephens said. "But there are going to be a lot of issues that would not have been covered in a military police academy that might have been covered in a civilian police academy."
Stephens said while military police officers follow the same procedures no matter which installation they are assigned to, their main function is to uphold federal laws, not Missouri statutory laws or laws specific to the state they live in.
"One of the major areas of concern for them would be to know how Missouri statutory law is going to be tested on a POST exam," Stephens said. "Out of the 50 states, all the laws would overlap, but they are called many different things."
An example Stephens used during classroom instruction was most states would label a crime as auto theft if a motor vehicle were stolen; however, in the state of Missouri that crime is called tampering.
"It's a semantical issue, but if you don't know the semantics, then you don't know what you are enforcing," Stephens said. "What we are trying to do is get them up to speed on how things are stated -- even things they might have knowledge of, like constitutional law, but in the rules of practice and procedure in the courts of Missouri, even constitutional law might have different names for the same thing."
Capt. Marco Valente, Company E commander, has already completed the POST examination as a personal initiative and thought his fellow MPs could benefit from the added training.
"After I took the test and one of the other officers in the battalion took the test, we got together and put our comments together, and we identified our shortcomings were Missouri law-specific stuff," Valente said.
Valente took the initiative to contact the University of Missouri-Columbia's Law Enforcement Training Institute and was able to get Stephens to come to Fort Leonard Wood to help other MPs prepare for the POST exam.
"This turned out to be initially for personal/professional development because we in the (Military Police) Corps do not have a standard certification validation for our police skills, so who better than the Missouri Department of Public Safety?" Valente said. "One of the reasons everyone here is getting involved is to validate their military police skills and to possibly set the conditions for a law enforcement career after the Army."