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Law enforcement training at police academy is rigorous but necessary

Deputy Reuben Manring has been a deputy at the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department for six months, ever since he graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Institute in Columbia.

“My goal was to graduate with a job,” he said.

While some departments sponsor recruits, Manring put himself through the program, which costs around $4,500. He said he felt that law enforcement was his calling.

Despite shortages of law enforcement recruits nationwide, departments and police academies in mid-Missouri aren’t lowering their standards. While it is a requirement to have at least 600 hours of law enforcement training before a potential officer can be hired, the Law Enforcement Training Institute requires more than 700.

“The point of that investment is so that we can give them as many tools as possible so that whenever they respond to a call not knowing whatever it is they’re getting, they’re prepared, they’re equipped and they are ready to handle that call in the way that their community expects them to handle it,” said Adam Duncan, the associate director at LETI.

Reuben said he considers himself a law enforcement tool that was shaped by his academy training.

“If you’d want to consider all of us a piece of metal, the academy kind of hammers you roughly into the shape you need to be,” he said. “Getting out on the streets starts finally fine-honing those skills you actually need.”

The students spend time in the classroom and completing practical work for four months.

Duncan said the classroom work helps students understand the reasons why police officer do what they do, whether it’s related to statutory or constitutional law or human behavior.

Students also do role play and receive tactical training.

“We also cannot recreate every situation they may encounter but we try at least to give them the categories of the calls they may be responding to so that their first time as an officer with lives on the line isn’t the first time they’ve had to respond to that type of call,” said Duncan.

Manring said his instructors were key in providing tools practically and in the classroom. He said they not only taught him how to disarm a suspect, but how to do it with respect and professionalism.

“I’ll learn the job out on the street and I’ll learn the job with a field training program that was offered to me at the Sheriff’s Office but I still continue to carry those principles that my instructors exemplified for me of character, diligence, professionalism and honesty,” said Manring. “All of those are extremely important to being a law enforcement officer.”

Manring and Duncan said that even though the program is rigorous, it’s necessary in order to be the officer the community expects them to be.

“We’re not just dealing with simple things here,” said Manring. “At the end of every call is the potential of life and death. The importance of responding to every single one of these calls in the professional manner that we train for is essential.”

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