Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Southern Ohio Police Training Institute to celebrate 20 years of excellence

The Southern Ohio Police Training Institute is known for its emphasis on professionalism.

The Ohio University-Chillicothe Southern Ohio Police Training Institute (SOPTI) will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an awards ceremony and dinner beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the Shoemaker Center on campus

The event will recognize past and current members of the program, such as past commanders, initial planning committee members, current and past instructors, advisory board members and SOPTI cadets and graduates. Among the honorees will be Dave Harding, whose vision made the program possible. There will also be a memorial wall dedication to honor SOPTI graduates who lost their lives in the line of duty.

For more information and/or to RSVP, contact SOPTI Commander Christopher Jones, (740) 774-7286 or jonesc@ohio.edu.

The program was launched in March 1995 and recently graduated its 40th class of cadets. In all, approximately 675 cadets have graduated from the program.

SOPTI Director James McKean, Ph.D., noted the visionary aspect by those who initiated the program to serve its region. “Recognizing a need to provide basic and advanced training to the southern Ohio area, Associate Professor Dave Harding moved forward with the creation of the Southern Ohio Police Training Institute.  As an original member of Dave's committee, I can attest to his dedication to advance law enforcement in our region. Without the vision of key individuals and support of our campus administration over the years, SOPTI would not be the excellent academy we know today. Today, SOPTI provides basic police training and advanced training to local area police agencies.”

Graduates of the program are qualified for certification as a Peace Officer in Ohio. Among agencies that have hired SOPTI graduates are police and sheriff departments as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies. SOPTI graduates are also positioned to continue their formal education at OU-C in the areas of law enforcement and criminal justice, if they choose. Over the years, approximately 25 percent of the cadets have continued their educational pursuits at OU-C.

The academy serves as an important community resource in ensuring that individuals who work for area agencies have the best training and, therefore, are qualified to provide the highest quality of service to area communities.

The SOPTI program is distinguished by its focused, quality educational experience, and that emphasis is paying dividends. Two recent classes of academy graduates attained a 100 percent pass rate on the test for certification as Ohio Peace Officers.

The peerless pass rate is a testament to the academy’s ability to provide practical instruction with an emphasis on professionalism.

“We pride ourselves on being structured and disciplined,” Jones said. “Beyond learning the basics, our cadets learn how to do their jobs with a high level of professionalism. Everything we do is relevant to what they will do on a daily basis once they are in the law enforcement profession, and we have designed the curriculum accordingly. For example, we have a court scenario that involves local judges and lawyers so that our candidates learn how to conduct themselves in an actual court case.”

The program lasts six months and includes 600 hours of instruction.

The academy’s instructors have the knowledge and insights to prepare the cadets for challenging careers in law enforcement.

“All of our instructors work full-time in the area in which they are teaching,” Jones said. “Consequently, the teaching is especially relevant.”

Several graduates have advanced to administrative positions with law enforcement agencies.

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