The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

SCCJA Improves Training Availability and Operations

About the Customer

The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy (SCCJA) trains law enforcement personnel for the state of South Carolina. SCCJA offers approximately 70 training sessions annually, training 600 to 700 students. Their facilities consist of thirteen buildings, including six dormitories, seven firearm ranges, and a driving track.

Background

In 2006, an editorial ran in Charleston’s Post and Courier that exposed how South Carolina police officers with poor performance records were continuing their work as police officers simply by transferring to different departments. Following the negative press and political pressure, Governor Mark Sanford formed a committee to gain a better understanding of the issue. Of the changes recommended, the state called for improved police officer records management. Subsequently, South Carolina lawmakers passed legislation that provided SCCJA with funding for equipment and software. This led to SCCJA’s search for a new system to manage their training certifications and records, and ultimately their purchase of the Acadis Readiness Suite.

Prior to Acadis, SCCJA had been using several systems to manage their information: REGGIE, Law Enforcement Training System (LETS), Microsoft Excel® and Word®, and a combination of different paper documents. The homegrown REGGIE system handled the registration process, and LETS housed officer employment certifications and training records.

Opportunity

Since SCCJA lacked a Learning Management System, they relied heavily on classroom-based sessions for training course delivery. South Carolina offers an educational broadcasting network called ETV (Educational Television), which was used to broadcast live recordings and recorded classroom sessions; as time progressed, SCCJA also began to offer online classes through the ETV system. Yet, this system was not a formal LMS, and did not offer the advantages of delivering the secure training that Acadis made a reality at SCCJA.

For managing its training, SCCJA relied heavily on paper documents, which often involved a complex shuffling of physical documents and folders. SCCJA’s systems were problematic since they were not integrated, forcing staff to track the location of paper documents through phone calls and email, and to address the human errors inherent in completing large amounts of paperwork.

When important documents were created, they were composed in Word and, in tandem with Excel, using Word’s merge functionality. These merged files and their electronic storage grew to be quite large since every document was kept on file with little protocol for records retention. Physical copies of letters—which sometimes documented either training achievements or failures—were not retained and the information contained was not recorded in LETS.

Goals

The lack of a communicative training management system created problems that rippled through the academy’s training operations. For instance, the food service regularly purchased groceries without knowing the actual number of students for which to prepare meals, often buying supplies on Wednesday and only learning of the final student head count on Friday. Special dietary or religious needs were unknown until the student first walked through the food line, as this information was not collected during the registration process. Student Housing printed out the pre-roster from LETS three days before a new class. Room assignments were organized based on the printed pre-roster. Information about each room, such as whether they shared bathrooms with another room, could not be recorded in LETS, forcing the Student Housing Manager to rely on memory alone.

Staff kept person record in LETS, but there were severe limitations. For example, staff could not email copies of these records, and when information was changed or notes added, LETS did not provide an audit trail notating who had altered the information.

Registration began when a training officer phoned the academy. The academy would check for availability in REGGIE, and then assign a date for registration only if they had available seats in a class. Potential students would travel to SCCJA’s campus in Columbia for registration, and, if the potential student successfully registered, the academy would send them a letter two weeks before the class began. Registration information did not appear on the person record in LETS since REGGIE and LETS were separate, non-integrated, and non-communicating software systems.

The class roster was also in paper format, and grades were handwritten. After final grades were entered and a class ended, the rosters were scanned and discarded, but the information was not entered into a database.

Solution Deployed

SCCJA selected the Acadis Readiness Suite to address its requirements for a comprehensive Training Management System. Key requirements included:

  • Streamlining the outdated registration process: SCCJA needed an online portal where training officers could view course offerings that included descriptions and dates, and where they could register applicants. Applicants would need to enter information on this online portal prior to arriving for registration.
  • Managing documents and training: During training, students were departed due to no-shows, dropouts, and exam failures. Therefore, the ability to track these changes was critical. Some of these students returned to the academy and enrolled in a later class. It was important to allow these students to continue where they left off, transferring their grades from the previous class to the new one.
  • Tracking compliance and the completion of required training for certifications: SCCJA also needed to print certification letters and certifications for students who successfully completed the program. After a certified officer left the program, the academy manually tracked the certifications of each person, including expiration dates, reminder letters for certifications nearing expiration, inactive certifications, and the recertification process.

The Result

Acadis has dramatically improved SCCJA’s operations. According to SCCJA Acadis manager Mark Thomas, the Acadis Documents module, in particular, has drastically improved the academy’s document management processes.

“We now can keep all the officers’ documents in one place for each officer,” Thomas said. “All hires, separations, and legal documents are now viewed under the officer’s record.”

Within Acadis, each officer is assigned an academy number—a universal number used to identify law enforcement officers in South Carolina—that is tied to their training records, traffic citations they write, and warrants issued at their request. Because of this adoption of the academy number across most state systems, including the Highway Patrol and the state judicial system, SCCJA can monitor officers for patterns and trends.

“It’s easier to get records,” Thomas said. “It’s allowed us to phase out other document systems and other historical records because they are already in Acadis.”

Acadis has also streamlined the way SCCJA gathers information. When an officer is in question for their actions, their record is flagged and tracked within Acadis. SCCJA is able to quickly view flagged officers, and follow up appropriately.

Each week, the Acadis Readiness Suite manages and organizes 500 to 900 SCCJA classes, many of which are delivered online via the Acadis LMS. The Acadis Online Registration Portal has streamlined the process of online registration for more advanced courses, providing a platform that negates the need to travel to the academy simply to register. Instead, the necessary information is gathered at the convenience of the student or officer.

SCCJA uses Acadis LMS for basic training of new officers, as well as to serve the ongoing and advanced training needs of South Carolina Highway Patrol, county detention officers, reserve officers, coroners, and 911 communications officers, among others. Every three years, officers must renew their certifications, and meet a required number of training hours to do so. Reporting In-Service training hours is now gathered through Acadis, improving the process of reporting for both the officer and the Academy.

“The LMS module has helped us a ton,” Thomas said. “The training officers love it. It has saved us a lot of time and money so far and that’s just going to grow.”

Acadis has brought many improvements to SCCJA, from streamlining the registration process to improving training, saving money and staff time, and providing tracking of officers by Academy number that’s available instantly to authorized Acadis users across the entire state.

“We now can keep all the officers’ documents in one place for each officer. All hires, separations, and legal documents are now viewed under the officer’s record. It’s allowed us to phase out other document systems and other historical records because they are already in Acadis.”
SCCJA Acadis manager, Mark Thomas
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