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Head of the Class

The Northeast Counter-drug Training Center is a great resource for law enforcement officers…and it’s free.

April 01, 2004  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

In the Classrooms

The RAID House aside, the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center isn't just about tactical training. Its classroom facilities are state of the art and its subject experts have a breadth of practical police experience that would be difficult to duplicate at any other school.

State of the art may not be strong enough to describe the technology in the center's newest classrooms. The facilities are an instructor's technological dream, offering instant feedback on testing through touchscreen systems and nearly microscopic display capability on each student's workstation. Instructors can also monitor the progress of each student without leaving the podium. With a mouse click, the instructor can view each student's monitor and then interact via headsets.

Training by Remote

One of the most exciting aspects of the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center is that an officer doesn't have to travel to the Pennsylvania or Wisconsin campuses to benefit from its programs. The center's distance-learning programs are very popular and the distance-learning curriculum is expected to expand this year.

Distance learning is beneficial to the center because it reduces the cost of the training, it's beneficial to the student's agency because the agency doesn't lose the labor of the officer to travel time, and it's beneficial to the student because it lessens his or her time away from family and friends. But despite its many pluses, distance learning has to overcome many people's perception that it is a poor substitute for on-campus instruction.

The distance-learning programs offered by the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center are by no means second rate. Its distance-learning facilities include teleconferencing over secure nets with movie theater-quality resolution.

And you can also forget the idea of teleconferencing being a one-way delivery system. The center's distance-learning technology is strictly 21st century. During a demonstration, I sat in Pennsylvania and carried on a conversation with another student in Orlando, with crystal clear audio/visual quality.

Subject Experts

The center offers a solid curriculum where the subject-matter experts teach with the best instructional equipment, regardless of whether the student is on campus or back at his or her police station. Its charter requires that professional law enforcement officials review all courses for content and validity. A board of directors, comprised of state police commissioners and/or superintendents from Indiana, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Connecticut, also provides academic oversight for the center.

Even with all this, the center continually expands and revises its curriculum to satisfy its growing number of students and the changing demands of its constituency. Center staff says that student feedback is a very important part of maintaining the integrity of the program and that course evaluations are used to make changes and improve the program.

Staff members say they always remember that the center's impact is not limited to the students who have attended its classes or participated in its distance-learning programs. Students take what they've learned through the center back to their agencies and back to their communities, they explain.

The Northeast Counterdrug Train­ing Center is dedicated to serving law enforcement agencies and community or­gan­izations by providing the most up-to-date training and education to its students. Its mission is to produce highly trained and highly educated law enforcement officers and drug demand reduction specialists.

Officers practice high-risk traffic stops using training munitions.

Further, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the center has undertaken an additional mission, helping provide officers with the training they need to counter terrorism. Law enforcement's role in the war on terror has resulted in new investigative demands, and it has required new lines of thinking. This is why the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center has recently developed counterterrorism classes that cover not only ideological terrorism but also narco-terrorism.

Stephen R. Gingrich, the center's executive director, says that the staff's number one priority is to protect Americans from drugs and from narco-terrorism. He adds that law enforcement is our first line of defense, and that's why the role of the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center is so crucial to officers and the people they serve.

William L. ("Bill") Harvey is the chief of the Lebanon (Pa.) Police Department and a member of the Police Advisory Board. He is also an Advisory Board member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

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