FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- First established at Fort Leonard Wood in 2007, the U.S. Army Civilian Police Academy trains Department of the Army civilian police officers assigned to law enforcement duties at Army installations across the world, and enables these law enforcement agencies to better perform their law enforcement, antiterrorism, physical security and force protection missions, said David Reed, Law Enforcement Operations Branch chief.
"We do world-class training of civilian police," Reed said.
The course is a combination of classroom instruction and practical exercises. Students are required to pass three exams and 67 practical exercises from the 97 subjects covered in the course, said Tim Boone, instructor and team leader.
The practical exercises include physical fitness endurance training, defensive tactics to include impact weapons, ground fighting, weapons retention drills, pepper spray direct contamination with law enforcement officer survival and apprehension scenario stations, day and night firearms skill training and vehicle dynamics.
"Most of what they do involves real-world things a police officer would have to do," said Scott Cheek, course manager. "A police officer needs to be a master of many disciplines."
Reed said the need for this academy was recognized when military police deployed in support of combat operations. Now, all newly hired DA civilian police officers are trained here to patrol Army installations, camps, posts and stations, not only in the U.S. but in Germany and Korea as well.
"The Army cannot perform its full law enforcement mission with just military police," said Col. Bryan O'Barr, director of Training and Education at the U.S. Army Military Police School. "Our civilian police force is an essential and critical part of the team."
The academy was recently reaccredited by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation, said Reed, a distinction that means the U.S. Army Military Police Corps is now the largest organization so accredited.
O'Barr said the academy being fully accredited "reflects its standing as a top tier training academy amongst law enforcement agencies across the United States."
Because of that distinction, the academy also teaches members of the U.S. Coast Guard Police Department.
One Coast Guard student, Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Rizzo, out of the Coast Guard Sector New York, agreed that the Coast Guard sends their police here because this is the standard for military policing.
Reed added that the U.S. Marine Corps is looking at sending their civilian police force here in the future.
Brandon Haynes, a student who recently accepted a civilian police officer position at Fort Detrick, Maryland, said he's been in and out of law enforcement for 20 years and this academy ranks up with the best training he received.
After time in the Army as an MP, Haynes spent time as a DOD police officer and in a community sheriff's department before returning to the Army.
"I wanted to come back to this side because they have a lot to offer as far as law enforcement goes," he said.
Reed said there are often classes with a mix of students with a lot of experience, like Haynes, and some who are first getting introduced to law enforcement. The results are the same for both ends of the spectrum.
"I have yet to hear anyone say this academy didn't enhance their knowledge," Reed said. "A lot of them say there are things they learned in the academy that they didn't know in 25 years as a MP Soldier."
That mix of experience opens the students to opportunities to network among peers, Cheek said.
Cara Hacker, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said the networking was an opportunity for those with less experience to learn from those with more.
Reed said the input from students like Hacker and Haynes helps ensure the course is set up for success.
"We reinvent this academy every three years in order to make sure we do our part to train those who go out and keep America safe and keep Army garrisons safe and functioning," Reed said. "It's very important that we do our job well and that we get it right."