While colleges involved in distance learning often focus more on academic study, the Online Police Academy (OPA) offers courses of a more functional nature.

Lt. Dennis Cobb, of the Las Vegas Police Department, hatched the idea of OPA as a way to provide courses on a broad scale to those who might not be able to get the training any other way.

Under the administrative leadership of Bill Clede, formerly of the Windsor (Conn.) Police Dept., the OPA began to attract its first students. The instructors, from around the country, put together courses within their areas of expertise.

The online option, now a training division of Smith & Wesson, allows law enforcement professionals, and those wishing to enter the ranks, an affordable, accessible way to increase their knowledge. It is hoped that some day students will be able to earn college credits. For now, however, the training provided by the OPA is designed to provide valuable education to those with no other option.

For more information, visit www. clede.com/opa.

— Paul Thrash, police liability specialist and instructor for the Smith&Wesson Online

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