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New Peace Officer training program coming to Portage College

Portage College is opening its doors to a new training program that will be a first in Alberta. This is the only college that has teamed up with a municipality to develop a law enforcement training program.
Portage College president Nancy Broadbent feels the program will help all communities within the Portage College service area.

In partnership with Lac La Biche County, Portage College is planning to offer a new training program that will be a first of its kind in Alberta.

A new law enforcement training program is expected to be up and running in the spring of 2021, geared towards new and existing Community Peace Officers (CPOs). 

“Law enforcement is one of the most demanding career paths out there, and high-quality training is necessary for officers - and aspiring officers - to succeed and serve the public in the best way possible,” said Lac La Biche County Mayor Omer Moghrabi. “We’re going to increase access to that training, meaning more Albertans are going to be kept safe and have highly qualified law enforcement professionals looking out for them.”

The program’s first course, Community Peace Officer Induction Training, is scheuduled to be offered next spring. This eight-week course will offer all of the training necessary for students to immediately obtain Level 1 Peace Officer designations. Other opportunities slated for immediate future development include training for existing Peace Officers and police officers.

A Level 1 Peace Officer is able to answer non-emergency calls like mischief or theft under $5,000, conduct collision investigations, and arrest and release criminal code warrants. 

“Portage College is very honoured to be partnering with Lac La Biche County to bring the Law Enforcement Training program to our Lac La Biche campus,” said Portage President and CEO Nancy Broadbent. “This program will assist with alleviating the significant wait times for training within the communities in Portage College’s service region.”

The partnership involves funding assistance from the municipality, which has approved the initial budget request for the program at $205,000. The money will be coming out of the County’s general revenue in 2020. Once the program is underway, it is expected to generate its own revenue.

“When we start running the Peace Officer training program we are anticipating that those courses will be full enough that we will be able to generate revenue,” said Clark. “So we will actually be able to cover the cost of the instructors, cover the cost of the equipment, and cover the cost of the materials.”

The program's eight weeks of intensive training is 30 per cent longer than a course offered by the province. What Portage will offer in addition the province's programming is shotgun training, radar/lidar training, and students will be certified in emergency vehicle operations. 

For Lac La Biche, this means the skill level of CPO’s in the hamlet will go up, and it will also mean that local RCMP’s will have more time for larger issues, as peace officers  take on more responsibilities. 

“We were lucky if we could get two people trained in a year because not a lot of places have the facilities,” said Moghrabi. “So we partnered with Portage College, and hopefully we will become a hub for the training to get the people up to Level 1.”

Even though the program is in the developing stages, Clark is enthusiastic about this new opportunity. 

“This is a training avenue to help develop a Peace Officer program in the province and to be on the leading edge of public safety,” says Clark.