SLEA: 20 Years of Success and Counting
It's tough to improve on a 99 percent success rate, but the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy will take on that challenge and more as College of DuPage transforms into one of the top Homeland Security Education centers in the Midwest.
SLEA has maintained a 99 percent course completion rate for the almost 3,000 basic academy recruits who have trained at COD since 1994.
"After they complete the course, they're required to take a state certification exam, and that is also a 99 percent success rate for us," said SLEA Director Michael Casey, who has 26 years of experience with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and nine years with the DuPage County Sheriff's office.
In addition to training recruits, all of whom go on to fill spots in police departments and law enforcement agencies in local communities and throughout northern Illinois, SLEA has educated more than 26,000 officers and deputy sheriffs in Continuing Education courses offered on COD's campus in Glen Ellyn, as well as at training sites in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Those courses cover an array of topics such as investigations, cell phone and Internet crimes, patrol operations, defensive tactics, emergency management and response, administration, and many other subjects vital to law enforcement personnel.
"The Robert J. Miller Homeland Security Education Center (HEC) gives us an advantage over other academies," Casey said. "Because of the state-of-the-art nature of its facilities, we do a lot of scenario-based training. Not only do we teach them what they need to know in the classroom, we get them to apply what they learn in real-world scenarios."
The HEC, which opened in 2011, includes a full-scale, indoor street scene with storefronts and the capability to bring vehicles indoors, as well as forensics and cybercrimes labs, a command center,a smoke room with moveable walls, fire rescue simulations and an outdoor scaling and rappelling tower, and a full-size ambulance.
"Often when there's an incident involving a police officer, one of the first things they look at is the training record of that person," Casey said. "We want to provide the best, most important and up-to-date training they can receive so they can be better police officers and better first responders, and make educated decisions on the street at a moment's notice."
Upcoming additions to the SLEA and Homeland Security Education programs will be a high-tech indoor shooting range and a call center training lab, in addition to much-needed new classroom space.
"Right now the recruits use the Will County Sheriff's range in Joliet, about an hour from here. When the new building is completed, they'll be able to walk across the parking lot from the HEC to do their firearms qualifications," said Tom Brady, associate dean and director of the Homeland Security Training Institute.
"We'll also be able to bring in our law enforcement partners—local, state and federal—to do their qualifications," said Brady, who spent 26 years with the United States Postal Inspection Service, finishing his career as inspector in charge of the Chicago division, one of the country's largest.
Brady emphasized that the ability to bring vehicles onto the new range will enhance the firearm experience.
"It's not standing stationary shooting a paper target anymore. It's more tactical, it's getting out of the car, taking cover—integrating the training," he said.
Homeland Security Training Center Opens in 2015
Rendering of the new Homeland Security Training Center, opening 2015 (courtesy of Legat Architects)
The newest addition to College of DuPage will fill several gaps in area law enforcement training and put the College on the national radar as a Homeland Security training leader.
The Homeland Security Training Center will be equipped with an indoor shooting range, 911 dispatch training facilities complete with simulators, additional high-tech classroom space, and the most advanced decision-making simulators for law enforcement in the world. The VirTra V-300 creates a 300-degree visual environment in which recruits can engage with threats in front of them, on both sides of them and behind them.
Homeland Security Training Institute Director Tom Brady emphasizes that the new building will focus on career training in terms of its classroom designs, simulators, range, and the dispatch center program.
Lisle Police Chief Dave Anderson said, "In the post 9/11 era, police departments across the country are tasked with training officers to provide a professional, immediate response to active shootings and possible terrorism events at the local level. The new Homeland Security Training Center will provide a local training facility for officers to gain and develop these critical skills.
"Over the past few years, we have struggled to find training venues to accommodate integrated firearms and tactical training activities. The new center will allow our officers to integrate firearms training into other exercises, all in one safe and controlled location."
By the Numbers
To date, the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy (SLEA) has maintained a 99 percent graduation rate, training 2,878 basic academy recruits from approximately 216 police departments and law enforcement agencies throughout northern Illinois. SLEA has trained more than 26,000 police officers and deputy sheriffs in Continuing Education courses that have been offered on the College's main campus, as well as at numerous training sites in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
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College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn IL 60137
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
(630) 942-2800 (Main)
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