The Indiana University Police Department family lost a larger-than-life personality in the passing this week of Joe Rupe, former director of the IU Police Academy (1985-1994). Rupe is remembered fondly for his humor, high standards and for the passion and innovation he brought to IUPD officer training.
"If you couldn't make friends with Joe Rupe it was your fault, not his," said IUPD Lt. David Rhodes, who was a firearms and tactics instructor for Rupe. "He was really outgoing, very knowledgeable about police work, and hardworking. He was good at getting everyone to do the best they could."
He was quick with a joke or quip to lighten the tension -- which is helpful in the field of law enforcement. All these years later, Rhodes still remembers Rupe's refrain, "Remember, every day is a holiday; every meal is a banquet
"He'd say that laughingly because obviously, that's not true, but that's the plight of the police officer," Rhodes said. "Whatever is going on that day, you have to step up and take care of the job."
IUPD-Bloomington Sgt. Jamie Snyder said accountability was a constant theme of Rupe's instruction to cadets and part-time officers. If they were in uniform, Snyder said, the uniform should be clean and pressed.
"We were expected to take pride in the uniform, take pride in our actions, and take pride in our department," he said.
Snyder attended the IU Police Academy in 1987 when Rupe was
Snyder and Rhodes both described Rupe, who during his 40-year law enforcement career also worked at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, as highly respected by police officers across the state because of his innovative and dedicated approach to training. He started the first Critical Incident Response Team in Monroe County and "hit it hard" to provide IUPD officers with equipment and training because he wanted them to be the best team around. Officers from other agencies trained with Rupe and the team because of this effort.
He also "radically" changed firearms training to make it more realistic. Instead of officers standing still while shooting during their required annual training (Rhodes said this just teaches you how to stand still and shoot), he incorporated movement of both the officers and targets.
Snyder recalls an officer traveling to Ohio for "cutting-edge" firearms training only to realize IUPD had been taking the same approach for years. IUPD officers also rarely do just the minimum required amount of training, whether it involves traffic stops, defensive tactics, firearms or other aspects of the job. The state requires firearms training once a year, for example, while IUPD officers do it eight times.
"He was definitely ahead of his time. He laid the foundation for training at IUPD," said Snyder, who serves as the training coordinator for IUPD-Bloomington. "We probably train as much or more than most agencies in the state and that all started with him. He said you train for a reason -- not just to get in your state-mandated hours. It makes you a better officer and teaches you new ways of looking at things."
Rupe challenged and motivated officers to be better.
"His main focus in life, he wanted to create better police officers," Rhodes said. "He will be missed."