SOUTHBRIDGE — The Baker-Polito administration marked the opening of a new state Municipal Police Training Center at the Southbridge Innovation Center.
The state-of-the-art training center on 14 Mechanic St. will support the needs of local police departments under the requirements of the state's recently signed police reform law, which created a mandatory certification process for police officers, increases accountability and transparency in law enforcement and gives police departments a greater ability to hire or promote only qualified applicants.
“The people of this commonwealth, no matter where they live — a city, an urban neighborhood or a rural community, suburban community,” Polito said, “they will have the best support and protection for the people who wear that uniform here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. That means something…And the best is yet to come.”
“It’s really hard to be a police officer anywhere in this country, especially under current times,” Reidy said. “What we owe them, as a state, as a community, is to train them, give them everything that they need to become the best officers possible in the 21st century. And to do it in a way that makes sure they’re safe, the community’s safe.”
The MPTC, an agency within the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, will use this training space to deliver standardized officer training as part of its regional approach to support the implementation of the 2020 police reform law.
Bridge Academy training program
The training center is one of several facilities statewide where the MPTC will offer its newly developed Bridge Academy. The 200-hour training program enables local officers who did not previously attend an 800-hour, full-time police academy to earn certification by “bridging the gap” between any prior training and the new uniform standards now required by law.
The newly created Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission is charged with administering the certification process. To date, 800 officers are enrolled in the bridge program, which is offered free to local departments with officers in need of additional training to meet the law’s requirements.
At the Southbridge Innovation Center, officers will train in nearly 36,000 square feet of classroom space that can accommodate up to 1,500 people in 14 classrooms, 20 break rooms and a full library.
“We are really excited about this relationship and very proud that MPTC has chosen us to support their training for men and women in law enforcement in Massachusetts,” said Charles Norton, owner of the Southbridge Innovation Center and president of the Franklin Realty Advisors LLC. “We’re honored and we stand ready to support that effort.”
In-person instruction key
At the Southbridge site, the MPTC will conduct in-person instruction for de-escalation training based on the new use-of-force policies and regulations mandated by the police reform law.
Courses will also include police leadership training conducted by FBI-LEEDA, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of School Resource Officers and other police education leaders.
In addition, the facility will offer statutorily mandated in-service training to some of the 24,000 officers across the commonwealth.
Robert J. Ferullo Jr., retired Woburn police chief and executive director of the MPTC; state Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer; and Southbridge Town Manager Michael McCall also made remarks.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Bridging the gap: New municipal police training center opens in Southbridge