Oklahoma’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training removed all references to “accreditation” from its website after a Frontier story showed the agency didn’t actually accredit the online courses it was offering to police officers seeking mandatory continuing education.
Additionally, a private Oklahoma City company, the Oklahoma Regional Community Policing Institute, removed training on “radical Islam” that Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, called “biased” in the same Frontier story.
CLEET made several changes to the way it describes how it tracks and certifies training it offers to Oklahoma law enforcement annually. Those changes came in the days following a story by The Frontier which showed the agency used “the honor system” before offering the classes to officers, rather than an actual accreditation process.
Now, the agency’s executive director said he plans to have CLEET create its own classes, which would be properly accredited to ensure they were appropriate for law enforcement training.
To remain certified in Oklahoma, every police officer must take 25 hours of “continuing education,” two hours of which must be related to mental health. Several classes that qualified for mental health training, including the course on “radical Islam,” and courses like “writing a report” or a class on strip searches, appeared to have little to do with mental health.
Linda Terrell, ORCPI’s executive director, said she removed the “Muslim World & Radical Islam” course following a discussion with Soltani after The Frontier’s story published.
“We took it down voluntarily,” Terrell said of the course, which contained hundreds of slides and referenced both the peaceful existence of most Muslims, as well as dramatic pictures of Osama bin Laden and images from the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“We told (Soltani) that we would work together with him to re-write the class.”
Soltani said he had planned to discuss the class with CLEET, but decided a better approach would be to reach out to Terrell herself. He described the conversation with her as “positive.”
“She said the class was supposed to be positive, not negative, and I said that ‘Well, it’s harmful now, the way Muslims and Islam are presented, but maybe we can fix it,’” Soltani said.
Meanwhile, CLEET made several changes to the “Accreditation/Catalog” section of its website, which details the rules by which it tracks which courses are offered to officers in need of continuing education.
In September, The Frontier reported that while CLEET referenced an accreditation process that would presumably review educational offerings offered by outside agencies, CLEET actually relied on the “good faith” of the companies to ensure the classes were appropriate.
Shannon Butler, CLEET’s operations manager, told The Frontier “it’s not an accreditation in the truest sense of the word.”
“We take it on good faith,” he said of submissions to CLEET. “There is a statute that says that giving fraudulent information to a state agency is a crime, so we rely on that. If we found that something was not appropriate, we could discontinue it at the very least.”
Jesus “Eddie” Campa, CLEET’s executive director, told The Frontier after the story that he also had issues with how CLEET handled some online courses.
“I’m like ‘I don’t like that,’” Campa said. “It doesn’t work for me.”
Campa said he wanted to “do our own courses,” which would be created and properly accredited by CLEET.
“We’ll put them on our website … we vetted it, we put it together, there’s your credit,” he said. “Instead of (now) where there’s someone who read an article on procedural justice and taught the class (online.)”
On CLEET’s website, in a section which used to be called “Accreditation/Catalog,” CLEET removed all references to accreditation from the page. The section is now called only “Cataloging” and all 23 references to “accreditation” that used to appear on the page are gone.
An editing note on the bottom of the page notes that it was last “updated” on Sept. 19, 2019, two weeks after The Frontier’s story on CLEET’s accreditation process, and just days after a story on Campa, which outlined a number of allegations that had been made against him at previous law enforcement stops.
Still, some of the same issues remain. Michael Brose, executive director of Mental Health Oklahoma, told The Frontier last month that he was concerned about CLEET’s accreditation process and that some improper classes may be “slipping through the cracks.”
CLEET’s website still states that classes in its online “catalog” are “not reviewed to determine if they are current with respect to ordinances, laws, statutes, or court decisions,” and that a course being cataloged does not necessarily mean CLEET approves “of the concepts, practices, handouts, reference sources, methods, techniques, products, or devices presented in CLEET cataloged programs or courses.”
Soltani said the changes are a good start, but he felt that more needed to be done.
“It’s not enough to change language on the website,” he said. “If you are doing continuing education for law enforcement, people whose primary goal is to protect and serve the public, you have to have a process by which the continuing education courses are reviewed and vetted for proper up-to-date education.
“It’s crazy that one of the most important facets of our society can get training without them being properly reviewed. You can’t do it if you’re an attorney, or in the medical field, or in education. How can it be OK to do that if you’re in law enforcement?”
Honor System: Agency tasked with continuing education of Oklahoma officers takes training ‘on good faith’