Program expedites ex-combatants to civilian police
Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
If it weren’t for an innovative program that allows former military police officers to transfer their skills to civilian police departments – which are chronically understaffed and lacking in recruits – Mike Sine could fight boredom in a police academy lasting several months.
Instead, the former Kirtland Air Force Base cop is at work, but wears a different uniform.
Sine, 26, is the first person to complete the New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s Transition With Honor program, which streamlines the process for veterans with military police training to become civilian police officers.
The program, established by DPS Secretary Gorden Eden, allows qualified veterans to complete a week-long refresher course that helps them transition from military law enforcement to its civilian counterpart – at no cost to the veteran.
The 40-hour program ends when the veteran passes the Law Enforcement Officer Certification Exam which, if successful, qualifies him for employment in law enforcement.
Without the program, the veteran would have to complete the 16-week DPS Law Enforcement Academy training course to gain the necessary certification.
DPS spokesman Tony Lynn said the program provides a needed bridge between former military cops looking for employment and state police departments facing a severe shortage of qualified officers.
“We looked and reviewed (law enforcement) training for each branch of the military to see how that training would translate into civilian law enforcement requirements,” Lynn said.
Between 2003 and 2005, the army changed its training program for law enforcement, he said, which was more in line with that of the civilian world. For the Army and Marines, the changes took place on September 1, 2003. For the Air Force and Navy, Lynn said, the changes took place on September 1, 2005.
“We felt that anyone trained from those dates had sufficient law enforcement knowledge to be eligible for the Transition With Honor program,” he said.
Lynn said the program is open to veterans, reservists and National Guard personnel.
Sine, a Pennsylvanian who joined the Air Force in 2007 and had been stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base since completing military police training, said the program was ideal for him and his family.
While serving with the 377th Kirtland Security Forces Squadron in 2012, Sine heard about the program from Lt. David Gallegos of the Bosque Farms Police Department. Knowing that he was leaving the military the following year, Sine followed suit and made contact with Jack F. Jones II, director of the DPS Law Enforcement Academy.
Sine took the bridging course in June 2013 and two months later joined the 15-member Bosque Farms Police Department. He is now considering moving to Texas for a job in law enforcement.
“It was a pretty easy transition,” Sine said last week. “A lot of what I learned in the military has transferred directly to the civilian world. The one thing that hasn’t been New Mexico criminal law, which we haven’t dealt with as much on the basis as we do here. “
The bridging course gave him a working knowledge of state criminal law, and he put that knowledge to good use on the beat.
“It was a very good experience,” he said, and which he hopes to share with his former colleagues.
“Hopefully I’ll be helping a lot of the grassroots make the transition. Some of my former colleagues have contacted me, so I hope this program will continue to grow.
Lynn said 18 military law enforcement personnel from Kirtland, Cannon Air Force Base, National Guard and Naval Reserves launched the Transition With Honor program this week.
“Once certified, they have one year to be hired by a law enforcement agency,” Jones said. Due to the maturity, experience and education of the veterans, he said, “They will be a great asset to any law enforcement agency in any community.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call Jones at 505-827-9290.