Official: No plan to shut academies despite low grad rates

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The head of Ohio's police training commission said there are no plans to shut any police academies despite a recommendation from a state task force to close up to half of the state's 62 academies because of low graduation rates.

Less than half of enrollees at 10 of those academies ended up as law enforcement officers over the past three years, the Northeast Ohio Media Group ( reports.

Despite the recommendation, the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission is not considering closing any academies, said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, chair of the commission.

"We're not going to take just an arbitrary (number) and think that we're just going to close academies," he told the newspaper. "Our goal is to make the academies better, and those that are underperforming perform better."

At least one academy head said low completion rates indicate strength — not weakness.

Stanforth said the commission will look into increasing the state's minimum number of basic training hours due to other task force recommendations, requiring students to take natural prejudice classes, having them interact with people with mental-health issues, and teach them good decision-making in high-stress situations.

Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville has had the lowest graduation rate in the state in the time period cited. Statistics from state Attorney General Mike DeWine's office show that fewer than 37 percent of students enrolled eventually graduated.

Bill Rensi, a former State Highway Patrol commander and one of two commanders at the community college, said graduation statistics don't tell the whole story.

"I've got people who leave here before they figure out where the johns are," he said.

All 10 low-performing academies are open to anyone, and usually follow minimum police training standards.

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