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A look back … 50 years of law enforcement training

Members of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission were celebrated for their work in shaping training and compliance standards and former executive directors were honored during the 2015 Ohio Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference.

The commission started as a council: The Ohio Peace Officer Training Council was created on Sept. 6, 1965, in response to a law passed by the Ohio Legislature calling for formal training for law enforcement. The council was set up to recommend rules of basic training, and, according to the law, any person appointed to a peace officer job after Jan. 1, 1966, had to complete the training.

Col. Anson B. Cook, a former Highway Patrol superintendent, was chosen on Oct. 14, 1965, by the council to serve as its first director. In a Dec. 29, 1965, article in The Columbus Dispatch, Cook said that while some training programs would only need a slight revision to meet council standards, others were lacking. He is also quoted as saying a lot of police agencies “have little or no training … they hand a man a badge and a gun and that’s it.”

Peace officer training has come a long way in 50 years. Here’s a look back at some milestones:

9/6/1965: State law creates the Ohio Peace Officer Training Council (OPOTC)

9/22/65: Congress enacts the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965 to pay for law enforcement training

9/30/65: OPOTC conducts its first meeting

10/14/65: Col. Anson B. Cook becomes the first executive director of OPOTC

6/19/68: Congress enacts the Federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act to encourage state and local government to improve law enforcement and to offer grants for related projects

4/2/70: Ohio Legislature calls for OPOTC to establish the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA)

7/22/74: Officials break ground for OPOTA in London

4/8/76: Council dedicates OPOTA in London

4/4/88: Thirty-three officers from 19 counties are part of first D.A.R.E. class at OPOTA

1997: House Bill 670 changes name of Ohio Peace Officer Training Council to Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to reflect its administrative appellate powers

10/03/98: Peace officers gather for the first Women in Policing Conference at OPOTA

1999: OPOTA completes revision of training curriculum

05/11/00: OPOTA dedicates the Ohio Fallen Officers’ Memorial Wall

10/11/01: Commission dedicates OPOTA’s Richfield campus

August 2003:  OPOTA opens the Tactical Training Center

March 2006: Workers complete renovation to upgrade dorm rooms, conference rooms and facilities on OPOTA’s main campus

May 2011: The Attorney General’s Office and OPOTC conduct an independent Job Task Analysis (JTA) of peace officer basic training
10/25/12: OPOTA offers new “Mobile Academy” program featuring portable firearm and driving simulators

5/14/15: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine presents OPOTC with his advisory group’s report on law enforcement training

2015 Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission members

Fayette County Sheriff Vernon P. Stanforth, chairman

Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge, FBI’s Cleveland office

Chief Clayton A. Harris, Cuyahoga Community College Police Department

Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman

Sgt. Troy Mineard, Akron Police Department
Col. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol

Stephen Schumaker, deputy attorney general for law enforcement, Ohio Attorney General’s Office

(Appointments are pending for two vacated seats.)

Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission directors

Col. Anson B. Cook (1965-78)

Wilfred “Bud” Goodwin (1978-86)

Keith N. Haley (1986-91)

Gregory T. Merritt (1991-95)

Vernon C. Chenevey (1995-04)

Steven W. Schierholt (2004–07)

Tomi L. Dorris (2007-09)

Ronald Ferrell (2009-10)

Robert Fiatal (2010-13)

Mary Davis (2013-present)