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Nicolet law enforcement training enhances public safety, cuts costs for local agencies

Nov. 6, 2014

It used to be local law enforcement agencies had to shell out big bucks to send staff for training that advanced overall public safety in the Northwoods.

The reason: typically the training was held hundreds of miles away. Lodging, travel, meals, and the high tuition cost of many of these multi-day professional development workshops were just too much for many agencies - especially the smaller ones - to handle.

law enforcement training“We wanted to change that,” said Phil Schmidt, Criminal Justice instructor at Nicolet College.

“Budgets are tight across the board, so we figured if we could offer this training in the Northwoods at Nicolet, we would be able to make advanced and specialized training much more accessible for local departments.”

In recent years Schmidt and others at the college have brought in hundreds of workshops. So far this year alone Nicolet has offered 32 law enforcement professional development classes attended by 562 participants.

“By offering this training locally, students don’t have to travel as far and they can go home at night. That alone is a significant cost savings. Students also don’t have to be away from their families for extended periods, which can be pretty disruptive for those with children, especially small children.”

While most of those attending are from the Northwoods, others are not.

“We get a lot people from all across the state and even surrounding states,” he added. “They are the ones that then need lodging, they need to buy meals and gas. All of this money goes directly into our local economy.”

Nicolet is able to offer this training, and the specially-trained instructors, thanks to numerous grants, most of which come from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and local entities such as a recent grant received from the Wisconsin Public Service Foundation.

So far in 2014 the college has been awarded $55,870 in grants. Much of this goes to pay for instructor specialists from local and state agencies, the FBI, and recognized national experts.

This year training topics have included how to investigate social networks, weapons training, evidence collection, legal updates, breathalyzer training, leadership and communication classes, and others.

Nicolet works closely with an advisory committee made up of local law enforcement leaders to hear their thoughts on the type of training that is needed. The result is that about half of the class topics are new every year to keep up with changing demand.

“This higher level of training for local law enforcement professionals translates directly into a higher level of public safety,” he said. “And that benefits all of us.”

In the photo above, Rhinelander Chief of Police Michael Steffes, far right, leads a training session for Department of Natural Resources rangers and wardens.