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Published: Thursday, 8/9/2001

UT to offer tuition aid for police hopefuls


A program that provides $2.2 million in federal funds annually to train law enforcement officers who agree to stay in Ohio for four years is moving forward at the University of Toledo.

Beginning in May, UT will offer its inaugural Police Corps program, a 21-week academy that will offer tuition reimbursement of up to $30,000 to about 25 college graduates who complete it. Agencies that hire graduates for four years will receive $10,000 annually to help cover the cost of the peace officer's salary.

The program, funded through an intra-agency agreement reached recently with the U.S. Department of Justice, will be the only one in the state. UT was chosen to administer the program in 1999 but it didn't get off the ground until now, according to D. Michael Collins, a visiting professor of criminal justice studies at UT who now is the program's director.

"There's a greater demand for the graduates than there are graduates," he said.

Participants will receive about 1,200 hours of training -- more than twice the number required by the state for certification, Mr. Collins said.

They also must have college degrees, a minimum GPA, and pass physical and psychological evaluations as well as a background check.

There will be no cost to cadets for the residential program, which will include everything from traditional law enforcement training to working in a homeless shelter, night training, and rowing in the Maumee River. Participants will receive a $250 weekly stipend during the training.

The Police Corps ought to save Ohio police departments considerable money since they would not have to pay for training and expensive background checks, said Mr. Collins, a former head of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association.

Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre said the program has merit but raises questions about superceding the hiring processes of local departments as well as consistency in training among a department's officers. Toledo sponsors its own police academy, from which it draws new officers.

"I'm not opposed to it. I just have a lot of questions that haven't yet been answered," Chief Navarre said.

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