- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Judy Bradshaw prefers not to dwell on the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy’s troubled past.

Rather, the academy’s newly appointed director wants to move the agency forward, ensuring that the more than 200 or so new law enforcement recruits that annually go through training are well prepared for all of the situations they may encounter as they patrol Iowa communities, The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1K99Jul ) reported.

And Bradshaw wants the academy to be recognized for its high degree of professionalism, a standard that in the past wasn’t always met.

“We’ve turned a page,” said Bradshaw of the primary training school for many of Iowa’s law enforcement officers and jailers. She was appointed the academy’s director on June 30 by Gov. Terry Branstad.

The academy’s previous two directors left under a cloud.

One, who was director for 12 years, resigned in early 2011 after complaints mounted from sheriffs, police chiefs and others over her management style and communication skills.

Another retired in June when it became apparent he wouldn’t gain the necessary votes to be confirmed by the Iowa Senate. That former director, a former Ames police officer and Story County deputy, was strongly criticized over his hiring and firing decisions and the overall management of the academy. Critics said female recruits and employees suffered crude jokes and unprofessional comments from their male counterparts and instructors. When the behavior was brought to his attention, male offenders were only gently reprimanded, critics said.

“Going forward, I truly do not think you’re going to see those kinds of issues from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy,” said Bradshaw, 56, who retired last year from the Des Moines police department where she worked for 34 years, the last seven as police chief. She became the academy’s assistant director in October 2014.

The academy’s instructors “are constantly on the students to be professional and to conduct themselves in a particular manner. We can’t have that dichotomy.of where (they) say one thing and do another,” Bradshaw said. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done … I call people out when I see” unprofessional behavior.

That attitude is supported by Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines.

“I think we need to re-establish a culture of professionalism at the law enforcement academy,” Petersen said. “We need to make sure there is respect for women who go to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. We can’t tolerate a culture that does not respect everyone.”

Petersen said she was pleased with Bradshaw’s appointment. “She should not have any problem with her confirmation,” Petersen said.

The academy was created in 1967 in an effort to upgrade Iowa’s law enforcement officers to a professional status. It trains officers and sets minimum standards for the state’s law enforcement departments. It also certifies officers and can suspend an officer’s certification.

In short, the academy “polices the police,” its website says.

The academy, located at Camp Dodge in Johnston, provides 14-week residential training sessions for new officers and deputies. Specialty training, in-service seminars and instructor certification is also offered.

The facility is Iowa’s only law enforcement academy. Des Moines and Cedar Rapids police departments operate regional academies; the Iowa State Patrol trains its recruits at the state academy’s facilities. The remainder of Iowa’s 5,000-plus officers, deputies and jailers are trained at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

“The academy is the first taste what being in law enforcement is all about for most of our recruits,” said Phil Redington, Bettendorf’s police chief. “We don’t want them to go there, have a bad experience and then quit … We have a lot of time and money invested.”

Bradshaw understands Redington’s point.

“When the men and women leave the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, the chiefs and the sheriffs should feel very confident that they have a well-rounded officer - that their officers are ready to hit the street,” she said.

The academy is currently undergoing a curriculum review, Bradshaw said. Instructional materials will likely be updated. Courses may be added or expanded. The length of recruits’ initial training session will be discussed.

Bradshaw is already considering topics with which she wants recruits to have more exposure. One is diversity training; another is interactions with the mentally ill. And she wants to put more emphasis on what she calls “tactical pause” training.

“When things are moving very, very quickly, and it’s potentially a life-threatening situation, is there a way that the officers can slow the situation down?” she said. “There may not be. But I think it is reasonable and it’s the right thing to do, to begin to talk to officers about all of their options and that you just don’t train for the extreme situation.”

Urbandale police Chief Ross McCarty said funding will likely be one of Bradshaw’s biggest challenges. A portion of the academy’s money comes from tuition paid by local law enforcement jurisdictions for the 14-week training session new recruits attend. He said more money is needed to operate the academy so new officers can be trained by the best in the field.

Some academy instructors are paid less than the recruits they teach, McCarty said. Increasing salaries would likely attract and keep top-notch instructors, he said.

Bradshaw is well-equipped to handle that challenge as well as others, McCarty said. “She’ll go in in an organized manner and overcome any obstacles that are in her way.”

Redington agreed that funding is one of Bradshaw’s biggest challenges.

“Funding is always a tough battle,” he said. “In the long run, I think politicians understand you need to have good training to have good law enforcement. I hope she’ll be able to get the funding raised to make it a top-notch academy.”

Bradshaw said she was unsure whether to apply for the job. She liked the slower pace of the assistant director’s position and its reasonable hours, which allowed her to spend more time with her children.

“Teaching and the academic environment is something I’ve always enjoyed,” said Bradshaw, who taught college-level criminal justice classes for a dozen or so years. “I thought, ‘What a great chance to wind down the position of chief of police,’ which was always on call and in the hot seat all the time.”

She had talked with a former director about his future plans when she interviewed for the assistant director’s job, she said. He told her he planned on retiring in two to three years.

“Obviously, things moved faster than I had anticipated,” she said.

Bradshaw said she talked to several people about whether to apply for the director’s job and ultimately decided to toss her name in the hat. She was one of six people who applied for the job but the only one Branstad interviewed, said Jimmy Centers, the governor’s spokesman.

Branstad believes Bradshaw “possesses the leadership, knowledge, temperament and communications skills to effectively lead the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy,” Centers wrote in an email.

Others share that opinion.

Jeremy Logan, president of the Iowa Police Chiefs Association, in an email wrote that the group is pleased Branstad “identified an experienced police chief to lead” the academy.

Bradshaw said she is looking forward to leading the academy, which in August will have 92 recruits - a record number -attending its training sessions.

“My clients now are chiefs of police and the sheriffs,” she said. “I don’t have the headaches that I had at Des Moines.

“This is fun.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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