Auburn University at Montgomery received a $100,000 grant to help address the need for specialized crime prevention training for Alabama law enforcement officers and agencies.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey awarded the $100,000 Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs grant to AUM’s Alabama Crime Prevention Clearinghouse & Training Institute to deliver a minimum of 27 free or low-cost trainings to state law enforcement agencies.
“Without proper training, agencies can open themselves to lawsuits and litigation, and in some cases ‘failure to train’ lawsuits,” said Linda M. Wright, director of AUM’s Alabama Crime Prevention Clearinghouse & Training Institute.
The grant will allow hosting law enforcement agencies to select training topics based on the need of the agency and the region. Trainings will be focused on advanced continuing education for law enforcement agencies and other groups. Longer, five-day training classes will be held for instructor development, first-line supervision, and master criminal investigator. The classes will be conducted by law enforcement experts located within and outside Alabama.
Wright said the grant will assist with filling a void for specialized crime prevention training in the state. In 2019, the Clearinghouse provided continuing education training to Alabama State Troopers and other law enforcement agencies where the classes “were filled to capacity,” she said.
“Our Clearinghouse continually receives requests for specialized continuing education training from local and state police academies around the state,” she said. “We have heard from police officers and others that their agencies do not have the money for training and the officers have been told to ‘get your training hours where you can.’”
“These agencies are struggling to find training that will provide their officers with current and relevant training topics and advanced continuing education credit,” Wright added. “This puts an extra burden on agencies to be able to provide the required minimum 12 hours of continuing education, which is mandated by the state of Alabama.”
To ease that burden, Wright said AUM will operate a new Crime Prevention Training Center within the Clearinghouse that offers free law enforcement/crime prevention training classes. The classes will be designed to help assist cities and counties in removing or reducing the opportunity for crime in their communities and statewide.
“We continue to see law enforcement agencies around the country, including Alabama, come under attack for ‘alleged’ improper handling of suspects resulting in altercations, arrests, and in some cases death of the alleged suspect,” she said. “All of these incidents have caused communication breakdowns in communities and have resulted in violence, vandalism, and demonstrations in cities across America.”
The improper handling of police crisis situations has put lives at risk, and many times results in the death of officers or the suspect, Wright said.
“The result are expensive and lengthy lawsuits that take precious dollars out of local and state budgets,” she said. “It has become increasing clear that law enforcement needs specialized training in how to handle, communicate and mediate with the community before these types of situations occur.”
AUM’s Alabama Crime Prevention Clearinghouse & Training Institute — a project of AUM’s Continuing Education Division — has provided some “no cost to attend” specialized law enforcement trainings on a consistent basis in Alabama since 1997. Wright, who has over 40 years of leadership in the crime prevention field, established the Clearinghouse to coordinate efforts and partner with agencies to sponsor statewide crime prevention training.
From July 1997 to May 2019, the Clearinghouse provided 720 low- or no-cost crime prevention/law enforcement trainings with an attendance of 37,507 people, Wright said.
“As we address the needs of law enforcement training in Alabama, we will continue to research trends and get information from training officers on what topics are needed in their areas,” she said.