Alfred State Police Academy: Teaching More About Mental Health And Addiction

March 15, 2021

ALFRED, NY – From The Alfred State Police Academy:

Continuing to adapt and evolve with the times, Alfred State Police Academy officials are constantly finding new and innovative ways to enhance the training of future law enforcement officers.

In fact, the tag line for the police academy is “Be a part of the solution,” and officials are currently taking steps to reimagine the academy through various trainings and calculated initiatives.

Speaking about some of the exciting changes on the way for this year’s session, Alfred State Chief of Staff Wendy Dresser-Recktenwald said, “For 2021, we plan enhanced mental health and addiction training for our cadets. We will also have a new family initiative that will provide sessions for family members to learn how to handle some of the challenges of having a law enforcement officer as a member of their family and handling the fear, the demands of the job, and other necessary things to look out for that effect both the law enforcement officer and the whole family as a result of this occupation. We are excited about these additions and others to our police academy and are confident they will greatly enhance the training of our cadets.”

Also helping to bring about valuable changes is Dr. Mel Chambliss, who was hired last August as the police academy’s chief diversity officer. Chambliss said he has worked with Police Academy Session Director Scott Richardson (chief of the University Police Department at Alfred State) and Assistant Director Kyle Amidon (chief of the Canisteo Police Department) on reviewing the current curriculum.

“It is our plan to introduce course materials that will emphasize the importance of equity, empathy, and human relationships,” he said. “It is my hope that by taking this approach, it will allow the development of cadets having the tools to deal with any situation they may encounter in their chosen profession.”

According to Chambliss, police academy officials are currently looking at acquiring a virtual reality system that will allow instructors to utilize realistic scenarios with their cadets to reinforce information delivered in the classroom, such as encounters with emotionally challenged individuals, traffic stops, or domestic cases.

“We will also bring in speakers that will introduce the importance of prominent topics in policing such as ‘community policing’ and ‘dealing with individuals on the spectrum.’ We are also working collaboratively with the Mansfield University Police Academy to increase and expand the educational experience for our academy cadets,” Chambliss said.

Additionally, over the last five months, Chambliss has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Community Safety Alliance and most recently has become a lead collaborator with the organization.

“This organization is a collaborative initiative to build a safer future for community members and the police officers that serve and protect them,” Chambliss said. “Their focus at this point is Pennsylvania, but their programs are being developed to be able to extend across the United States.”

Another new and exciting addition this year is a P-Fit program that launched in February to help recruits prepare for the 2021 academy. The program is held from 7-9 a.m. each Sunday at the Canisteo American Legion.

Richardson noted that those enrolled in the P-Fit program are administered a physical fitness test according to the Coopers Standards of Physical Fitness.

“We can gauge their progress and let them know what areas they need to work on in order to make their standard,” Richardson said. “They leave with information on what to work on and ways to improve during the week. We also have a guest speaker come in and talk with our prospects. They are given valuable information on not only physical fitness but nutrition, overall health and wellness, how to deal with stress, and what they can expect at the academy and on the job. Police officers from our area come in and talk with them, referencing experiences they have had while on the job. Assistant Director Chief Kyle Amidon was instrumental in getting this program up and running.”

Richardson said he is very excited with the direction the Alfred State Police Academy is headed.

“We are constantly looking for ways to better train and prepare our recruits to the current industry standards,” he said. “We want our academy recruits to be part of the solution and what better way to do that than through training? Our goal is to emphasize community policing, fair and impartial policing, and duty to intercede, and we want to stress officer wellness and so much more. We want our recruits to be the best all-around police officers they can be so that they can better serve their communities.”

For more information and to apply to the Alfred State Police Academy, contact the Center for Community Education and Training (CCET) at CCET@AlfredState.edu or Tammy Edwards at 607-587-4017.