When National Park Service officials increased Seasonal Law Enforcement Training from 400 hours to 650, they decided to use Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center as the pilot program for the new regimen.
The decision was not made randomly.
“SCC-PSTC consistently demonstrates a high standard and delivers a high quality of instruction,” said Mark Cutler, Branch Chief of Seasonal Law Enforcement Training for the National Park Service. He was in Macon County in mid-August for the pilot program’s launch.
“Plus, they have the necessary resources available,” Cutler added. “They’re what we consider a ‘Tier 1’ academy; they’ve met or exceeded all criteria we set out.”
SCC first offered the SLETP program in 1978. Only six other schools across the country are accredited to offer the program, which makes successful graduates eligible for a Type II commission in the NPS.
Twenty-one recruits representing 14 states and one U.S. territory started the pilot program, which is technically SCC’s 96th SLET class – though this session will contain significantly more training in all seven critical areas: legal, behavioral science, enforcement operations, patrol procedures/scenarios, firearms (pistols, rifles, shotguns), driving and physical techniques for subject control.
Current recruits hail from far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico.
“We’re wanting to erase the training disparity between seasonal and permanent rangers,” Cutler said. “We’re increasing all aspects of the training so that graduates will get broader preparation for what will be expected of them in the field.”
Southwestern offers SLETP twice annually, preparing graduates for assignment to one of more than 400 parks, monuments and other facilities within the 50 states – as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam – under the authority and jurisdiction of the NPS.
Overseeing the training are Curtis Dowdle, Dean of SCC’s Public Safety Training; Mitch Boudrot, SCC’s Law Enforcement Training Director/Coordinator/Instructor; and Don Coleman, SCC’s National Park Service Law Enforcement Training Instructor.
“We’re honored that the National Park Service holds us in such high regard that they’ve appointed us to launch this expanded curriculum,” said Curtis Dowdle, Dean of Public Safety Training at SCC. “We do not take this designation lightly, and our instructors will continue to deliver the same high quality of training the NPS has come to expect.”