Story by Ashley Shickler, staff reporter
The CNM Law Enforcement Academy is preparing for the next round of students this August by fine-tuning their curriculum with a few slight changes to ensure the students are receiving the best instruction while utilizing all of the academic services CNM has to offer, said Matthew Thomas, Criminal Justice Interim Affairs Director.
“When you try to run an integrated curriculum, especially with police officers, there is so much you have to think about. You have to think about the law, tactics; you need to know about reasonableness and the standards out there,” said Thomas.
Thomas said they are trying to make things easier, particularly by focusing on the class’s academic processes, to make sure they are taking care of the students academically down the road as well.
“We’re trying to break some things up into some modules, so if somebody did fail, the student would have the ability to come back in later on perhaps,” Thomas said. “And we’re trying to line things more up with the academic processes at the college this time, which I think is working better.”
Thomas said they will also more than likely preload some of the tactical stuff a little earlier in the academy and not wait for some aspects to be later in the academy.
Test anxiety workshops, great physical fitness training and having the classes on the west side are some of the methods that worked well, Thomas said.
“Some of the good things about the academy were the use of test anxiety workshops, as well as being able to walk across to the next building and get English tutoring. This resulted in the students being able to be brought up to report-writing standards very quickly and alleviate some test fears,” he said.
The use of Blackboard was also a helpful utilization tool because students were able to go back and look at resources throughout the course of the class, Thomas said.
Elias Romero, a fitness instructor at CNM, did a great job in getting the students ready in the physical fitness department and they met all their exit standards at the midpoint, said Thomas.
Deciding to have the academy take place on the west side was another good idea, Thomas said.
“Overall, having it in a less stressful environment worked because the west side academy is beautiful and being in an academic environment is different than an academy environment, so I think we were able to get better academically trained police officers,” said Thomas.
The reality of the schedule is that they are either trying to do shift schedules of five eight-hour days or four ten-hour days, but it’s usually a mixture of both, he said. Students are asked to check in sometime between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and classes run anywhere from 4:00 pm to 6:00 at night.
Thomas said they try to leave the classroom as a safe zone, so there still needs to be professional discipline, decorum and abiding by certain rules, but the good thing was that no one ever fell asleep and they were very engaged the entire time considering that the academy can often be an emotionally draining experience.
“It’s easy to make mistakes, but what we really try to do is dwell on academics and engage them using some of the methodologies in the classroom that CNM developed and I think as a result of that they were very engaged,” said Thomas.
Thomas said he wants the students to be able to ask as many questions as they like during the training.
“We want them to ask questions, be critical thinkers, and have them keep a record of everything they do,” said Thomas.
The class is graded to type up notes that the teachers evaluate and look at regularly, so they can make sure students have the proper study material and all the things they need in order to succeed, Thomas said.
“The first class to graduate did pretty well and did a good job on their state certification exam,” Thomas said.
Students from the first class graduated CNM’s academy on May 24, 2019 and are currently receiving further training from Albuquerque Police Department before graduating on July 22, 2019.
As far as how the academy turned out the first time around, Thomas felt that the schedule worked pretty well and that the things he and the teachers did critique themselves on were overall relatively minor, he said.
“I think it went very well being the first time that we ran it,” Thomas said.