Monday, October 3, 2016

New leadership at Criminal Justice Academy lays out priorities

At last Friday’s fall forum for managers/administrators, the new director of the SC Criminal Justice Academy, Jackie Swindler, addressed more than 50 managers and administrators about some of the concerns and challenges he’s looking at in his new position.
Swindler has more than 40 years in law enforcement and is the former long-time chief of police for the City of Newberry. Most recently he was the law enforcement liaison for the SC Department of Social Services.

Here are five take-aways from Swindler’s conversation with the managers and administrators:

1 - The CJA is funded by fines and fees from tickets, but that could change. Swindler will be asking the Legislature for a permanent line item of funding instead. One of the Municipal Association’s 2017 advocacy initiatives lends support to this change to CJA’s funding stream.

2 - Training could be coming directly to police departments in their own cities. Swindler is requesting state funding to dispatch a mobile team to go into four regions of the state to do ongoing training at local departments.

3 - If the legislature approves this new CJA budget, Academy training for new officer certification will be increasing from 12 weeks to 15 weeks. What’s in the extra weeks? Increased diversity training and a focus or making sure officers don’t put themselves into situations where shooting a gun is the only line of defense.

“Those additional three weeks will be … all about where you position yourself, how you posture yourself, use of force, arrest, verbal judo, de-escalation, cultural diversity, prejudices, biases, all those things will be taught, Swindler said. "Most of our situations happen as the result of how we communicate and then how it escalates. If we are able to have the additional three weeks, those will be some really good hands-on weeks.”

4 - Psychological tests are important. Swindler is requesting in his budget enough money to be able to reimburse police departments for psychological tests they administer to job candidates. “You do the test, send us the invoice, and we’ll pay you. I strongly encourage you to use psychological (screenings),” he said. “I know it’s hard on some budgets to be able to do that. It’s being asked of us throughout the county. The public is saying, ‘please vet your officers.’”

5 - Remember to report new hires to the CJA within 72 hours. It’s the law, after all. “We got one in the same envelope that was the hire form and the fire form,” said Swindler.

Swindler recently participated in a law enforcement task force hosted by the Municipal Association where stakeholders came together to discuss many of these challenges. The task force will continue to meet throughout the fall.

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