Aug 28, 2023 - News

Colorado's largest police training center is "dangerous"

Illustration of a police badge in pieces with pieces of tape holding it together.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Colorado's largest law enforcement training center is being cited by state authorities for a second time regarding hazing, abusing and injuring of cadets.

Driving the news: State officials say a long-standing "unprofessional and dangerous" culture pervades the Flatrock Regional Training Center run by the Adams County sheriff, per CPR.

  • Since August 2018, trainees have reported more than two dozen injuries to the state board that regulates training academies.
  • The incidents range from third-degree burns from doing pushups on hot asphalt to a cadet hit by dozens of wax bullets in an exercise.
  • The state alleges that instructors have targeted women, and men of smaller stature.

Why it matters: Flatrock graduates between 90 and 140 law enforcement officers a year, but the training center's reputation, one cadet told CPR, is a potential deterrent for new cadets at a time when law enforcement departments are struggling to recruit.

  • Meanwhile, some incidents are going unreported, an audit found.

What's happening: The state put Flatrock on a remediation plan in June — for the second time in a year — and warned that center operations could be suspended if conditions aren't met.

  • "The trend of injuries remains a significant concern," Peace Officers Standard and Training board (POST) director Erik Bourgerie wrote in a June 15 letter to the Adams County sheriff, a copy of which was obtained by CPR.

The other side: Sheriff Gene Claps, who was elected in 2022, said he has spent most of his tenure so far investigating the training center, and said he has not found any evidence of hazing or targeting certain recruits.

  • He told CPR he has banned certain activities, though, like punitive dodgeball.
  • Yes, but: Claps is challenging the latest remediation plan, saying many of the injuries are not serious. "I don't know if you can call it a problem," Claps told the radio station.

Of note: The training incident that involved firing wax bullets and injuring a cadet could be referred for criminal prosecution, POST officials told CPR.


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