SPRINGFIELD — A bill to provide a source of continued funding for the Police Training Institute at the University of Illinois has been introduced in the Illinois House.
The legislation would establish a Law Enforcement Training Fund to provide equal amounts of operating money for PTI, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board and the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, located in the old Champaign County Nursing Home in east Urbana.
Revenue for the training fund would come from a $25 surcharge applied on all felony and misdemeanor convictions in the state, according to state Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. He is sponsor of an agreed amendment to House Bill 4146, legislation sponsored by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
The $25 surcharge would yield between $6 million and $12 million annually, Rose said.
The legislation would not only help keep the 56-year-old training academy open, but would help it expand its mission, he said.
"The whole goal here is to make PTI a world-class destination for law enforcement, well beyond the sort of boot-camp training for first-year cadets. We want to have cutting-edge research in sociology and criminal justice issues, with access for physiology and kinesiology faculty to what goes on in intense situations," said Rose, a former county prosecutor.
He suggested that researchers in other campus disciplines could work with the PTI on such issues as cybercrime and cyberterrorism.
"Having our world-class faculty in there gives us a nice working laboratory that will take something that is great and make it even better, and make it a destination," he said.
The associate director of the PTI, Michael Schlosser, has written a draft "vision" of the new PTI that calls for it "to become a nationally recognized center for research and training" in law enforcement.
"PTI trains over 200 recruits a year, providing a large sample size of subjects to conduct research while recruits attend the academy, as well as longitudinal studies post-academy," wrote Schlosser, a retired Rantoul Police Department lieutenant who has been a full-time PTI employee since 2004. He is scheduled to become its interim director later this month when current director Barbara O'Connor moves to the University of Connecticut.
"In addition having over 200 client police agencies," Schlosser continued, "PTI has the opportunity to conduct research involving veteran officers of varying years of service, responsibilities and ranks. Using these resources would enable PTI to become the premier research police academy in the United States and gain worldwide status."
More than a year ago, an Urbana campus committee recommended closing PTI, contending that it had little connection to the UI's educational mission and that the university could no longer subsidize its operation.
But Jakobsson, Rose, state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing appeared before the UI board of trustees two months ago and asked that it help keep the institute open. Rose said its presence at the university contributes $7 million to the local economy.
UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the university is evaluating the newly revised legislation.
"We're not trying to cut out anybody else. We just want to make sure that PTI stays here," Jakobsson said earlier this week.
"I want to thank the board of trustees," Rose said. "They heard us out when we went over that day and said that they would give us a little more time to work this out. Frankly, I don't expect anybody to float this. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't do our best to keep these jobs local, keep this economic input local and grow it into a world-class destination with a new vision."
Currently, PTI is training a class of 48 recruits, Schlosser said, and it expects to be take on another class in April.