Arizona Police Department Offers Special Training

A young police officer standing next to her car.

Transitioning service members have plenty of opportunities when they return to the civilian world and they should take advantage of as many as possible. For example, the Lake Havasu City Police Department of Arizona is now offering an expedited program for former MPs. Rather than going through the entire course, LHCPD offers an weight week course designed to specifically address transitioning veterans. We had the opportunity to speak with Sergeant Bekkedahl about the program.

What is the abbreviated police academy program?

The program being offered is the Military Police Transition Training Program, and it is being held at the Western Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy, in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The program is specifically designed to provide military police personnel an accelerated pathway to a civilian law enforcement career.  Rather than being compelled to attend a traditional police academy, designed for individuals without law enforcement experience, the Military Police Transition Training Program allows qualified veterans to use the valuable training and experience they obtained in the military to become certified law enforcement officers in the state of Arizona.

The program consists of an abbreviated eight week training program, and it is open to individuals who have previously attended formal military law enforcement training. In addition to attending formal law enforcement training, applicants must have also performed qualifying military police related duties in excess of 2080 hours.  The program is open to active duty, reserve, and National Guard veterans who have performed qualifying military law enforcement duties within the past five years.

What prompted the academy to create a custom version for veterans?

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, combined with the downsizing of our military, the number of veterans leaving the military is drastically increasing. As these veterans transition from the military, they bring years of valuable training and experience with them. By implementing the Military Police Transition Training Program, we hope to assist veterans with their transition and make the process of becoming a law enforcement officer as straightforward and efficient as possible. In looking into the amount of training and experience that military law enforcement personnel receive, it only seems logical and practical to allow that training and experience to be utilized towards a career in civilian law enforcement.

Have you noticed an increased number in veteran applicants in the last few years?

Actually, we have not seen a notable increase in veteran applicants over the past few years. We typically have always seen an ample amount of veteran applicants during our hiring process, and throughout the history of the Lake Havasu City Police Department, there has always been a strong representation of veterans within the department. Veterans from all branches of the military can be found throughout the ranks within the department, from the Chief of Police to one of our newest officers.

How is the customized version different from the regular version?

The traditional law enforcement academies in Arizona are approximately eighteen weeks in duration, and they are designed to accommodate individuals who have no law enforcement experience. The Military Police Transition Training Program involves an abbreviated eight week training program that is specifically designed to bridge the gap between military law enforcement and civilian law enforcement. Areas of the traditional law enforcement academies that mirror military law enforcement academies are condensed or eliminated in the Military Police Transition Training Program, and an emphasis is placed on areas that differ between military and civilian law enforcement.  

What benefits are there for veterans who go through the custom course?

The Military Police Transition Training Program allows eligible veterans the opportunity to expedite the process of becoming certified law enforcement officers. The program has been approved for G.I. Bill benefits through the Veteran's Administration, and the program also allows candidates to earn 15 college semester hours towards an associate's degree through Mohave Community College.  Job placement assistance is another significant benefit for veterans who attend the Military Police Transition Training Program. Applicants are able to attend the program with or without a sponsoring agency. For applicants who are not employed by an agency, job placement assistance will be offered at the conclusion of the program.

What unique qualities do veterans bring to the law enforcement community?

There are an abundance of them. Some of the most significant qualities of veterans have to do with life experience, maturity, discipline, and decision making skills. These qualities, combined with years of military training and experience, create the potential for quality law enforcement applicants. Additionally, military veterans are accustomed to working within an organized command structure, so the typical paramilitary environment of a law enforcement agency is familiar and fitting for veterans.

If you had to give one piece of advice to veterans who are aspiring law enforcement officers, what would it be?

A career in law enforcement is a unique opportunity that is both challenging and rewarding. When compared to the military, a career in law enforcement is similar in several ways. One of the most important similarities has to do with camaraderie and teamwork. There are very few professions that replicate the camaraderie and teamwork found within the military, and fortunately law enforcement is one of them. If you are a veteran who is aspiring to become a law enforcement officer, and you are looking for a rewarding career, my advice would be to take the next step and apply for the Military Police Transition Training Program.

For more information about the program, contact Jake at bekkedahlj@lhcaz.gov, or call at 928-680-5471.

Show Full Article

Related Topics

Veteran Jobs