Bagpipes played Saturday at Alumni Hall as 36 students from within the IU system graduated from the IU Police Academy. IU President Michael A. McRobbie attended the graduation ceremony at Alumni Hall, along with the seven police chiefs of each IU campus.
Graduates of the 43rd class of the IU Police Academy wore Class “A” dress uniforms as they were presented with a badge, a certificate, police identification and an IUPD challenge coin.
A challenge coin, issued by police departments and military across the country, resembles pride and morale for one’s department or branch of service.
For many of the graduates, this was the first challenge coin they had received. Saturday’s graduation occurred as a part of the two-year IU Police Academy program.
The program, one of seven in the state, is the only program in Indiana on a college campus.
IUPD Capt. Greg Butler coordinates the IU Police Academy, and he graduated in the program’s first class in 1972. He said he typically recruits interested students as sophomores. All members of the academy must be full-time students at an IU campus and must be at least 21 years old by the time they graduate from the academy.
“The program is designed to professionalize the field and allow students the opportunity to become police officers and work as police officers part-time, while they go to school full time,” Butler said.
Once eligible students have passed a blood test, met a grade requirement and have been interviewed, they enter the program as cadets.
As a cadet, students spend one school year on an IU campus, assisting in events and security. In Bloomington, some cadets live in residence halls and can be seen working at Wells Library, the Student Recreational Sports Center and at football games.
IU senior Danielle Stigers graduated from the academy on Saturday and said she became interested in the program her freshman year after talking to a part-time officer.
“A lot of our assignments are at the library, so we get a lot of student contact,” Stigers said. “It’s great because people don’t realize that we’re students as well so when they see us as cadets they come and talk to us and find out that we’re in some of the same classes that they are.”
After their first year, cadets attend the Police Academy for 15 weeks in the summer.
During this 600-hour program, cadets learn the basics of police work from professionals from agencies like the FBI, Indiana State Police Department and Bloomington Police Department. Here the cadets learn criminal and traffic law, physical tactics, communication skills and more. Stigers said her favorite part of the academy was working with different types of people.
“Everybody’s favorite is probably the driving or when we go up to the range and do shooting,” Stigers said, “but we also spend a lot of time learning about diversity and different cultures which is really great.”
After graduating from the summer police academy, students finish their second year in the program as a part-time officer while taking classes. Some students even remain on IUPD’s staff for additional time after completing the two-year program.
As the only police academy at a university in Indiana, students are allowed the opportunity to receive a job on the police force directly after graduation. The Police Academy follows a standard curriculum governed by the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board.
“They’re very marketable,” Butler said. “When they graduate the University, they will have not only a degree, but they’ll have Indiana police officer certification and job experience in their chosen profession.”
Butler said students interested in the IU Police Academy are welcome to apply year-round and he is currently recruiting for the class of 2015.