Indiana University East Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Mengie Parker was talking with one of IU East’s police cadets, Brooke Hartwig, in the hallway of Tom Raper Hall one day when he realized she wasn’t wearing a body armor vest.
“I asked the cadet about it and she said they could supply their own,” Parker said.
Parker, a former law enforcement officer, went to Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Ross Alexander to request that the school help provide police cadets with the vests while they are enrolled in the program. The criminal justice program at IU East is part of the school, and the cadets are typically criminal justice majors.
“We are very focused on students and their safety,” Alexander said. “We want to be very supportive of the cadet program, which allows our students to be ready to step into any law enforcement profession when they graduate.”
Jerry Minger, superintendent of Public Safety at Indiana University, said wearing a ballistic vest is strongly recommended but it is not a strict requirement for IUPD officers.
“The majority of the academy personnel purchase their ballistic vests which are custom fitted, external or internal to the uniform shirt based on personal preference. The type of ballistic material and level of protection is also a personal choice and this becomes an item that the part-time officer can keep and take with them to a police position after they graduate and leave IU,” Minger said.
IU East is in its fourth year of offering the Indiana University Police Department’s (IUPD) cadet program, a professional training program for students interested in careers in law enforcement.
This year’s police cadets are junior criminal justice majors Brooke Hartwig and Kyle Hall. They were accepted into the cadet program in August 2014.
Hartwig and Hall are in Bloomington at the IU Police Academy, a 14-week program held each summer. The academy provides a comprehensive and unique law enforcement training program which, when coupled with the university’s educational programs, produces a highly qualified, experienced, and educated law enforcement professional. Cadets in the academy receive complete law enforcement training required by the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. Once the program is successfully completed, the cadets become certified law enforcement officers with full police authority in the state of Indiana.
They will return in the fall as certified police officers sworn in the state of Indiana. While completing their degree, Hartwig and Hall will work part-time for the IU East Police Department. IU East is currently selecting two new cadets for 2015-2016.
Hartwig and Hall were fitted for and received the body armor vests before the end of the spring semester.
The IU East School of Humanities and Social Sciences used funding from its strategic grant for the body armor vests. Parker said he contacted Point Blank and worked with the company to purchase the Hi-Lite series vests and to potentially set up an exchange for new vests when needed. The vests cost $1,800.
Cadets are measured and fitted specifically for the vests so that they fit well and are comfortable to wear, Parker said. The vests will be returned to the university when the officers graduate for future cadets to use, as long as they can be fitted to a vest in the university’s stock. If not, a new vest will be purchased.
Parker said the Point Blank Hi-Lite series vests are state-of-the-art and offer the highest level of protection. Point Blank offers different levels of vests: 2, 2A, 3 and 3A. IU East police cadets have 3A vests, the best available to protect them from any handgun caliber. Additionally vests include ThorSheild, a protective fabric used to deflect taser and stun gun devices, and a trauma plate in the front, protecting officers from impact and blunt force trauma. Parker added the body armor vests have a five-year lifespan.
“We wanted to make sure our students were protected. It is also important for them to learn how to use the equipment and to get used to wearing it and taking care of it. They are going to be steps ahead of other candidates looking for positions in law enforcement. They are job ready for when they leave IU East,” Parker said.
IU East Police Chief Burt Cole said the IUPD is very thankful to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences for supporting the cadet program.
“The purchase of the vest is only one way that they have shown that they care about the IU East students involved in this program. We are truly fortunate to have the strong personal and academic connections that we have on this campus,” Cole said.