Lincoln University has been granted preliminary approval to establish the U.S.’s first law enforcement basic training academy at a historically Black college or university (HBCU), with a unanimous vote from the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission, KRCG reported.
The decision came after a Monday meeting during which the commission discussed the results of a survey on law enforcement training in Missouri.
“Minority recruitment is probably the most difficult thing right now,” POST Commissioner and Springfield Police Department Chief Paul Williams said. “While Springfield had previously had African American officers in the past, there were none when I took the chief’s position. It took eight years to build up to five black officers.”
Recruits will be enrolled full-time in the academy during their last semester of school. The program will be 18 credits, recruits will live on-campus and tuition is part of the program.
“Those kids are mentored by us the whole time. They’ve chosen and they’re recruited by us to go to our school,” Steenbergen said. “I tried to find every police academy in the state and get a picture of their graduating class. I come up with 250 plus or minus graduates … 14 were African Americans, so that’s less than one percent of graduates in our state is African American.”
Out of 107 registered HBCUs, none have a police academy program, Steenbergen said.