Public Safety Initiative to bring training and education to police, public safety personnel

Lyda Hill, Colorado Springs, donated funds to start the Public Safety Initiative.
Rodney Walker, senior instructor, School of Public Affairs, will lead the Public Safety Initiative.

A new Public Safety Initiative at UCCS will bring affordable training and education services to law enforcement and public safety personnel in the Rocky Mountain West, thanks to a $1.4 million gift from philanthropist and entrepreneur Lyda Hill.

Housed within the School of Public Affairs, the initiative will focus on leadership development, ethics, resilience, officer wellness, school safety, diversity and policing in multicultural settings, cybercrime, among other topics.

“The UCCS School of Public Affairs is uniquely suited to undertake this initiative,” Chancellor Venkat Reddy said. “The university is integrated into the public service and criminal justice communities along the Front Range and throughout southern Colorado.”

Rod Walker, senior instructor,  School of Public Affairs, and retired Colorado Springs Police Department deputy police chief, will direct the Public Safety Initiative.

“The roles and expectations of law enforcement officers and other public safety personnel have changed dramatically, and will continue to evolve,” Walker said. “Through this initiative, we will provide high-quality education and cutting-edge training to the men and women on the frontlines protecting and serving their respective communities. Our goal is to be a well-established program in Colorado, which will be a draw to public safety personnel in the Rocky Mountain West.”

According to the Department of Justice, more than 29,000 sworn officers serve in the Rocky Mountain West, with more than half serving in the state of Colorado. In the absence of a centralized public safety university-affiliated educational organization in Colorado, agencies and individuals seeking continuing education and professional development must search for available options that fit within their budgets. Demand is such that even when money is available, slots are few and waiting lists can be long. The Public Safety Initiative meets the demand for low-cost, high-quality professional development for law enforcement and public safety personnel.

“I am thrilled to be able to support both UCCS and our public safety personnel who work so hard to keep our communities and our country safe,” Hill said.

Hill has a long history of giving to UCCS. She gave $5 million to UCCS to open the Veteran Health and Trauma Clinic, launched the UCCSTeach program that trains math and science teachers, supported the Heller Center for Arts and Humanities, and contributed to the under-construction Ent Center for the Arts. In May, the UCCS College of Business honored Hill with a Lifetime Entrepreneurship Award.

— Melanie Sidwell, CU Advancement Communications

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