This summer the IU Police Academy is continuing its tradition of moving cadets into a new and more intense phase of their law enforcement training, but it will also mark a notable ending. This year’s class will be the 22nd -- and last – for Class Commander Capt. Greg Butler.
Butler, who returned to IU Bloomington and the Indiana University Police Department after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corp, didn’t just graduate from the IU Police Academy – he graduated in 1972 as part of the very first class.
Cadets back then wore blazers and ties – a far cry from the uniforms of today that are nearly indistinguishable from full-time officers. From the start, however, Butler says the IU Police Academy has always been about personal and professional growth.
“They change,” he said of the hundreds of cadets who have gone through the academy under his watch. “They become more confident. The academy is where they find out if they’ve got what it takes to be a police officer. Not everyone can do this job, be a law enforcement professional. It’s very satisfying to watch.”
One of a kind
IU’s Cadet Officer Program is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country. Full-time students on all of the campuses can apply and if accepted, work part-time as cadets for a year before going through the 14-week IU Police Academy held each summer.
If they graduate from the academy, which is one of six satellite academies of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, they become certified law enforcement officers in the State of Indiana and work part-time on their campus as fully sworn IU police officers while completing their IU degree.
After Butler graduated from IU he moved on to a 20-year military career. IU and academy graduates pursue a wide range of careers, with many, like IUPD-Bloomington Chief Laury Flint, working for local law enforcement agencies. Some choose state police, or national agencies such as the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshall’s office. Some attend law school and become attorneys and judges.
During the academy, based at IU Bloomington, cadets will tackle a 600-hour curriculum taught by ILEA-certified instructors. New this year:
- The curriculum includes expanded instruction and training regarding sexual assault, diversity, and firearms.
- 41 cadets is the largest class during Butler’s tenure.
- Last year was the first time the class included cadets from the core campuses and each of the regional campuses. This year, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus also is represented.
Blogs, pictures, video and assorted posts about the cadets’ academy experience will once again be shared on social media – primarily the IU Police Academy Facebook page.
The Cadet Officer Program began in the early ‘70s as a way to provide additional security on campuses and to reduce barriers and tensions between students and authority (police). While these objectives remain, changes include bike patrols and the residence hall live-in program, which provides part-time officers with free room and board in exchange for their availability if incidents arise.
Cadets and part-time officers receive four weeks more training now than in those early days. Butler said changes to the Cadet Officer Program and the IU Police Academy have mirrored the challenges and demands faced by law enforcement officers over the years. One example is the physical fitness requirement. Officers must now have a higher level of endurance and physical strength because of the growing number of incidents that result in physical altercations. So, during the academy, physical fitness (calisthenics, jogging, Crossfit, swimming) is performed on a daily basis, with the integration of defensive tactics. While topics such as state and federal laws, diversity, and investigations have always been included in the curriculum, officers also receive in-depth training on the recognition of and response to mental illness, crisis, and various neurological-health conditions. Cadets learn about victim stress and responses, and healthy practices to reduce work-related stress. The academy curriculum has also had to keep up with the latest technology, helping cadets understand new software and hardware, such as body-worn cameras and squad-car mounted cameras.
Capt. Butler says his “leadership philosophy is to lead from the front,” but he is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the more rigorous fitness demands. He also would like to spend more time with his wife of 42 years and their family.
He described his work as extremely satisfying – and said he is looking forward to watching this new class of cadets (meet cadet Keon Brown) grow and mature over the coming weeks. He’s OK with letting his successors lead the program into “the next phase of policing.”
“I’m ready,” he said. “It’s time to turn it over to younger blood.”