At CMC we’re training your neighbors to keep the peace |

At CMC we’re training your neighbors to keep the peace

CMC Corner
John Goodwin
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Fifteen students graduated during recent commencement services of the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy at Colorado Mountain College. Left to right are Cliff Winter, Most Outstanding Student and Top Gun, Breckenridge Police; John Goodwin, Colorado Mountain College associate professor of criminal justice; and Logann Crawford, Top Driving Student, Glenwood Springs Police. Cumulatively 95 percent of students who start the program finish successfully. And out of those who graduate, 98 percent pass the state POST test the first time they take it. Well over half of the law enforcement officers in Garfield and Pitkin counties have gone through CLETA training at Colorado Mountain College.

It’s 2:30 on a Saturday morning, and Stewart Curcio, a recent graduate of the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy at Spring Valley, has just arrested a man for driving under the influence in Aspen. Stewart’s training officer, Matt Burg, graduated from the same academy in 2005.

The report that Stewart writes will reflect the training he received from Basalt Sgt. Stu Curry, who teaches at the academy and is also one of its graduates. This report will be reviewed by Assistant Chief Bill Linn, who graduated from the academy in 1995.

And then there’s the chief, Richard Pryor, who attended the academy in 1997.

This is not unusual. According to Kevin Brun, director of CLETA, as the academy is also known, more than 80 percent of Aspen’s officers have gone to the academy in the past 15 years. Well over half of the law enforcement officers currently employed in Garfield and Pitkin counties have undergone training at CMC.

Every moment of every day a graduate of CMC’s police academy at Spring Valley is serving his or her community throughout the mountains of western Colorado. Since its beginning at the Eagle Campus of CMC in the early 1980s, the academy has trained more than a thousand people as Colorado peace officers. Most of these graduates have gone on to work as patrol officers in police departments and sheriff’s offices here in Colorado. Many of those have moved up through the ranks to become investigators, supervisors, administrators and department heads. Some have moved on out of state to continue their careers. An example is Glenn Schaffer, the chief of police in Challis, Wash.

Wherever academy graduates have gone they have one major attribute in common: a clear sense of their role in their communities. The academy was conceived as a training ground for those who want to serve in small to medium size departments with an emphasis on resort environments.

Kevin Brun says, “It takes a special kind of person to succeed in a tightly knit community. Officers who can work well in these environments know how to listen well to the ever-changing needs of the community. They understand that pursuing the spirit of the law is more important than enforcement of the letter of the law. They look at themselves as ‘peace officers’ rather than ‘law enforcement officers.’ They use their discretion wisely and ethically and are sure that it is guided by the values of their community.”

These are challenging times. The world has changed since 9/11. How we train our police officers has shifted. But, at the core, graduates of the academy at CMC Spring Valley leave knowing that their essential duty is to increase the perception of safety in their communities through working with the wide variety of people who live there.

Not everyone is cut out to be a “peace officer.” It takes a special person with the right attitude and commitment to succeed. At the academy at CMC Spring Valley the goal is to turn out peace officers. It’s been happening for over 20 years and, hopefully, for many more.

John Goodwin is Colorado Mountain College associate professor of criminal justice.

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