CLEVELAND (AP) — The Ohio attorney general has eliminated 39 jobs at the state’s police officer training academy outside Columbus as it revamps how advance training of police officers is conducted.
Attorney General Dave Yost in a statement said the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London has not been self-supporting financially for more than a decade, but did not mention that positions would be cut.
“Law enforcement deserves the best education and training we can offer and our current structure falls short,” Yost said. “This redesign means better, more thorough training.”
Gwen Callender, executive director of the Columbus-based Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council, decried how 27 police training officers were told they no longer had jobs and were immediately locked out of their computers and offices.
“The way the Attorney General abruptly got rid of these employees was a poor recognition of their loyalty to OPOTA and we believe disrespectful,” Callender said.
Attorney General spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said Wednesday that OPOTA employees will conduct tactical driving training on its road course and tactical firearms training at its gun range in London. Training officers whose jobs were eliminated could apply for those positions.
The Attorney General’s Office will work with all employees whose jobs were cut to apply for positions for which they qualify, McCorkle said.
Advance training in areas such as fingerprinting and evidence collection will be held regionally by agencies and instructors certified to teach those classes. Yost said five or fewer students were enrolled in dozens of classes held last year at the academy roughly 28 miles (45 kilometers) west of downtown Columbus.
McCorkle said the decision to revamp training was not a direct result of COVID-19, but the pandemic “exacerbated the issue.”
The London academy also will no longer hold certification testing for new police officers, said Fayette County Sheriff and OPOTA chairman Vernon Stanforth. That testing will instead be done at regional sites as well, he said.
The academy is developing software for advanced training that officers can review online at their leisure, Stanforth said.
“The idea is to keep folks close to home and keep costs down,” Stanforth said.