At the direction of the Attorney General, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) is stepping up regional and online offerings to help law enforcement agencies cope with limited training and travel budgets.
OPOTA offered 110 regional trainings to about 5,300 attendees last year. Executive Director Bob Fiatal wants to double that in 2011. And in June, the academy attracted about 300 registrants for its first two webinars, a training option Fiatal expects to offer with increasing frequency.
“Our goal is to continue to offer quality training at our facilities in London and Richfield and at the same time double the number of regional trainings offered in the field,” Fiatal said. “Regional trainings are deliberately scheduled for one day or less to help agencies avoid overtime and travel expenses. Our OPOTA campuses will concentrate on more intense and lengthy courses, such as firearms, driving, instructional skills, and other specialized areas.”
Sgt. Jeff Pritt, who has coordinated training for the Newark Police Department for the past two years, appreciates that approach. Pritt’s department hosted two regional trainings on Senate Bill 77 implementation this past winter. All 75 Newark officers attended, as did officers from other Licking County agencies.
“If it’s a four-hour training, and it’s close, then we can get officers back on the street and let them finish working their day. We were able to do that with the SB 77 training,” Pritt said. “It’s convenient and cost-effective.”
That’s important in tough times, said Pritt, whose department has lost five officers through attrition and laid off five civilian staff members.
“As budgets for training shrink, online and regional trainings are going to be more valuable to departments,” he said. “That’s going to be the way to go in the future.”
Pritt commended OPOTA on the quality of the instruction. “It was very informative and covered all the bases. They did a fantastic job,” he said of Senate Bill 77 course instructors John Green and Jessica Didion.
Fiatal said OPOTA helps ensure its trainings are on the mark by surveying law enforcement agencies on their needs and incorporating instruction by sheriff’s deputies, police officers, crime analysts, university professors, BCI agents and scientists, and victim advocates.
To share input or inquire about OPOTA offerings, e-mail askOPOTA@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.