(EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.) — El Paso County Sheriff Joe Roybal said a new training academy is underway at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) with new certification that cadets are working toward.

“I am very excited to announce our POST, Police Officer Standards Training Academies, which we are going to have three this year,” Roybal said. “This would be the first time in a while where we have POST academies here at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.”

The academy is 23 weeks long and cadets will train on defensive tactics, arrest control, and defensive training, as well as learning the law, verbal skills, and de-escalation.

Cadets practice defensive training on Friday afternoon.

A goal of the academy training is to recruit new talent to protect Southern Colorado.

“Right now, we’re increasing our recruiting,” Roybal said. “We are offering the POST-certified academy, which draws a bigger candidate pool. We have seen an increase of over 100 applicants in the first posting of the academy. This Saturday, we’re going to open it up for another post academy and we anticipate the same results.”

One cadet, Bronwyn Klein, changed careers from health care and now is a part of the academy.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Klein said. “A lot more work than I think I’ve ever put into anything. But it hasn’t been as draining as anything I’ve ever done.”

Klein moved from Seattle, Washington to Colorado Springs and shared why she chose to train for EPSO.

“This office has a better reputation, from what I’ve heard,” Klein said. “Just with the officers in the community than any other agency that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with or that people I know have interacted with.”

Roybal stated he is working toward making this a regional academy where other agencies could send their officers to be trained.

“The goal of that is to train all of our officers in one academy who work with each other day in and day out, out on the road,” Roybal said. “What that will do is allow those smaller agencies to hire the people that are the best fit for their communities.”

Inside the classroom, cadets sit while listening to Sheriff Joe Roybal.

Another goal of the academy is to share with recruits the benefits of serving and protecting El Paso County.

“What I hope our future is that people recognize that here in El Paso County, we are very fortunate, our community absolutely adores law enforcement and supports us,” Roybal said. “So anybody who might be on the fence, I’m not sure if I want to join law enforcement because of the stigma that is throughout the rest of the country. Please give us a call.”

Cadet Christian Vinson explained that each day is challenging and that he must work to find solutions. In turn, he elaborated on how rewarding completing each training task is.

“There’s a whole series of benchmarks throughout this, and each one that you can check off the box gives you a sense of satisfaction and feels like you’re one step closer to being where you want to be,” said Vinson.

Outside the training center for EPSO

EPSO will offer three POST academies throughout the year with applications for the second academy opening on Saturday. Information can be found here.

“I’m hoping to get those numbers back up,” Roybal said. “So by having three academies this year alone, I’m hoping to be at a point where we’re at an over hire status through the end of the year. That’s always a juggle with the budget, and I watch the budget very closely to ensure that any over hire that I have enough money for.”