Rose hopes to keep Police Training Institute at UI

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he is renewing efforts to keep the 55-year-old Police Training Institute at the University of Illinois.

UI officials announced earlier this week that the institute, which provides training and continuing education for police officers in Illinois, would close next December because the university can no longer afford to subsidize its operation.

Rose, however, said he had suggested a funding alternative to UI officials earlier this year but never heard a response.

His plan, he said, would add a police training surcharge on all felony and misdemeanor convictions in the state. The Legislative Research Unit is gathering statistics on annual convictions and police training costs, he said.

An obviously irate Rose said he has called for a meeting next month with UI officials, state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign; Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana; local police representatives; local chamber of commerce officials and others regarding the planned closure of PTI.

"I just want someone to entertain the idea of putting a fee on this thing and just listen," Rose said. "If you don't like the idea, at least show the courtesy of calling me back and saying we want to go in a different direction. But at this time it seems that nobody even knows what was going on. It's typical UI, the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing."

Frerichs said he favored preserving the PTI but said the university shouldn't be blamed for the institute's demise.

"I'm very interested in exploring what we can do to keep PTI here," he said. "What seems clear to me is that the state needs to actually fund its obligations. I don't think you can fault the university. They don't want to use tuition dollars to fund it. But hopefully we can find solutions to keep PTI at the university."

Mike Metzler, the associate director of the institute, insisted UI officials have done all they can to keep the organization in Champaign-Urbana.

"The university has really been good to us. And the chancellor (Robert Easter) has really struggled and tried to make this work. But there are other forces working against him," Metzler said.

Easter released a statement from Thursday's UI board of trustees meeting in Chicago: "We are always open to offers of assistance, and my office is working on setting up a meeting with Rep. Rose."

A campus cost review team earlier this year concluded that the PTI had little connection to the university's educational mission and that if it could not restructure itself it should face termination.

"The review report came out in May or June. It sounded like the entire campus was against us because they didn't think we fit with the mission," Metzler said. "But the chancellor's position has been quite the opposite. He saw the outreach mission for PTI and thought it was a good fit for a land-grant university.

"The question has always been should student tuition dollars be supporting PTI. And because the university's appropriation from the state, those non-tuition dollars, has diminished so much they're operating a lot on tuition dollars."

Metzler said there "are still some of us here in the unit who thinks it's a possibility" to preserve the PTI.

"I am looking forward to anyone, especially someone in the Legislature, who can get the necessary funding and understanding that this isn't the university's fault. The university has supported us, to the tune of millions of dollars over the years," he said.

Rose said he believes operation of PTI is a good match for the university's public service mission.

"I get it that we can't keep putting these costs on students. I agree," the lawmaker said. "So that should get them to come to Springfield and say, 'What can we do to keep this thing here?' It's a huge economic boon for our community. It's a feather in the U of I's cap to have our name associated with all these law enforcement professionals who have gone to the Police Training Institute. How many people started their careers at 20 years old at the PTI in Champaign-Urbana? All over the country we impact people.

"I think public safety is the most core mission of any government there is. And having our name associated with thousands upon thousands of uniformed police men and women, executives in law enforcement, people who go on to other careers in law enforcement, is huge. Why wouldn't we want the U of I associated with that? Public safety is the most core function of any government in my mind."

Frerichs agreed that the loss of PTI would be a blow to the local economy.

"It brings people from all around the state and from what I hear they spend money in Champaign-Urbana," he said.

Rose said he doesn't know if it is too late to save the institute.

"Can I sit here and promise people that this won't be lost? No I can't," he said. "They may have already inked an agreement. No one has said that. But I'm going to do everything I can to keep it. This is a huge thing for East Central Illinois."

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GeneralLeePeeved wrote on November 19, 2010 at 9:11 am

While I'm all for keeping the PTI operational, I have serious doubts regarding Rep. Rose's suggestion of putting a surcharge on convictions. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that the majority of those convicted in this state were represented by public defenders. If they didn't have the money to pay for a lawyer at the time of their greatest need, how does anyone expect them to be able to pay additional charges or fines associated with the verdict? I'm afraid that these amounts would simply build up as just another uncollectible sum, much like the backlog of uncollected restitution payments that already exist. Good luck Mr. Rose, you'll need it!

chambanaresident wrote on November 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

I don't think this is necessarily the case. Wouldn't these offenses include simple traffic tickets as well? These fines could be spread out the $900,000 a year cost over traffic tickets (say $25 each), DUI fines ($200 each), underage drinking tickets ($50 each), etc. At just $25 a pop that would only be 36,000 tickets a year over all of illinois. I'm sure it isn't that logistically simple, but you get the idea.

There's a difference between asking for a public defender because you can't cover the thousands of dollars to hire one yourself and not being able to afford an extra $25 of your fine.

gamera wrote on November 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

I thought I read a while back when this was first proposed that since funding for police departments around the state are declining, they don't have money to send officers for training. Rep. Rose isn't going to be able to fix that....

Fedupwithstatereps wrote on November 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

Where is the support for the Institute of Avaition that is being closed next year too?

CharacterCounts wrote on November 19, 2010 at 11:11 am

It is opined the university admistration and faculty always looked at the Police Training Institute as a step child. University departments could have provided faculty members to teach some segments of the program as they did years ago when Law School faculty provided the legal instruction for the program.

Someone posted that there is some program not really beneficial to the university in East St. Louis that is still being funded by the university. Why was this program not cut before PTI was eliminated.

Perhaps the Legislature should restrict all police training over 4 weeks in length to PTI, Illinois State Police Training Academy and the Chicago Police Department Training Academy. Training at other locations draw away students and make it so all of them are not run efficiently and within restricted budgets.

It is only short term that cities and counties are not hiring many new officers which results in fewer officers attending PTI basic training. Perhaps more in-service training should have been developed by PTI and still can be so out to fill up the classrooms and instructors time.

Police officer training should be at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the whole state benefits from this program. PTI in recent years has hired faculty with police experience and not just those who gained all their knowledge in a classroom and had a advanced degree.

The president of the university should step up and overturn the plans to close PTI.

At least Representative Rose is representing not only his district but all citizens of Illinois. Where are the Democratic members of the Legislature when they are needed to support a program at the University of Illinois like PTI? They seem to be pretty silent on support for an excellent program. Their party controls the Legislature and Governor's office, with their strong support, PTI could remain as funding could be obtained as Representative Rose has suggested a plan.

Keith Hays wrote on November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

The question should not be whether the Police Training Institute should close up. The question should be whether it should continue to be subsidized by U of I student's tuition. To ask that question is to answer it. The next question should be whether PTI can operate in a more cost effective manner and still provide the service to the people of Illinois that it was designed for - to provide for effective and well-trained law enforcement services.

We already have in the East Central Illinois community an institution of higher education - Parkland College whose program offers an Associates Degree in Law Enforcement. That institution, and not the U of I, seems an appropriate venue to provide the education and training that PTI is designed to provide.

Illiniparent wrote on November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Rep. Rose will be the last legislator in the world to support an income tax increase. Right now the UofI is getting state support at 1999 levels. Rep Rose, wake up ,we are tired of paying for your unnecessary programs with our tuition money. You want a police institute, you raise the taxes to pay for it and stop picking our pockets.

Mike wrote on November 20, 2010 at 6:11 am

Rather than worry about PTI, let's go back to trying to make sure that we can keep the University of Illinois at the University of Illinois.

Start funding the University again, and get it back above water, and then maybe we can start worrying about the extraneous affiliated organizations that are currently weighing it down.

William_D wrote on November 22, 2010 at 6:11 am

The PTI was just another vehicle for funneling taxpayer money to private, connected contractors such as Xe (formerly the scums known as Blackwater). Good riddance to them. As for Chapin Rose, he's a pandering blow-hole.

freechampaign wrote on November 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

And you get your information from ????????

William_D wrote on November 23, 2010 at 7:11 am

I get my information from here for starters:

http://www.ucimc.org/content/uiuc-cans-pti-director-tom-dempsey-covers-i...

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2007-08-22/pti-b...

Or simply Google "UofI PTI Blackwater" or something similar. Lots of stuff.