LLPD lieutenants complete exclusive command training course

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While they’re happy it’s over, two Los Lunas police lieutenants feel fortunate to have been able to attend an intensive training course that will not only help the department, but their futures as well.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas Police Lieutenants Naithan Gurule and Vince Torres recently graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, a 10-week course to prepare mid- and upper-level supervisory personnel for senior positions.

Naithan Gurule and Vince Torres, both lieutenants with LLPD, recently graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, a 10-week course hosted by the Albuquerque Police Department.

Both Gurule and Torres were selected to attend the program by Police Chief Roy Melnick, who said the course is to prepare mid- and upper-level supervisory personnel for senior positions by combining academic principles with practical applications.

Along with learning management and human resource skills during the course, the two veteran officers brought back knowledge about how they can help make the department more professional and how to communicate better with the public.

“We touched on a lot of subjects, such as personalities — understanding the different personalities out there and how to use it to our benefit,” said Gurule, who has been with the department since July 2002. “It was about fully understanding employees to help them be successful.”

Gurule said another course was designed around statistical data, which would analyze crash information to help reduce traffic accidents.

“It was a real benefit to us so we can better implement our resources,” he said. “What would be helpful is learning about the certain intersections and where we’re having more crashes than others. That’s important, because we want to reduce that number to prevent injuries and fatalities.”

Torres, who has been with the LLPD since September 2001, said learning to deal with the types of crashes and their causes was also an important lesson to bring back to the village. Noting that many crashes involve rear end collisions, Torres said driver inattention and text messaging is a problem.

“We need to start focusing our resources in educating students and the public about paying attention to what’s in front of them rather than what’s on the radio or text messaging,” Torres said. “That’s important to know because we will then be able to deploy our resources.”

The two lieutenants are both very grateful to the chief for allowing them to focus on the course, saying that they learned how to be better managers and are able to bring back and implement ideas that will benefit the police department.

Torres studied and wrote a paper about how to better deal with citizens’ complaints, and ultimately educate citizens about what a police officer goes through while teaching officers how to better deal with the public.

“We want to be able to let the citizens know what the outcome was after an investigation was completed on their complaint,” he said. “A lot of times, they don’t know what’s happening once a resolution has been made, so my suggestion to resolve minor citizen complaints is have them, along with an officer, go through mediation.”

Torres said mediation would be an opportunity for the citizen and the officer to get to know one another, and explain their actions. He explained that a lack of communication may have caused the problem, but mediation is a good way to educate a citizen, as well as an officer.

Gurule’s study focused on enhancing use-of-force policy, using information from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and the Denver Police Department, and applied it to the LLPD’s policy.

“It’s basically enhancing requirements of reporting — what should be reported,” Gurule said. “It means everything should be reported with the exception of the normal application of handcuffs. Other than that the normal procedure should be reported. Also, all use-of-force (incidents) should be reviewed, which we do, in a six-month review and in our annual report.”

As for the course itself, both Torres and Gurule said the class work was intensive, having to take two to three tests per week, and finding time to study at night.

“This was probably the most academically challenging course that I have ever been through,” Torres said. “I’ve taken some college-level courses, and it was much more difficult. It’s not an easy course. They used every single minute that they possibly could.”

Gurule agreed, saying the 10-week course was very challenging, taking a lot of time and effort as well as taking away from quality family time. On top of taking this course, Gurule continued with his two on-line college courses at Herzing University, where he’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminology.

“It was definitely a long 10 weeks,” Gurule said. “It wore me out because it required much more than I’m used to.”

“This course made me realize what I’m not doing well and what I can work on, as well as reinforced what I’m doing right,” Torres said. “This wasn’t only for us, but for the whole department. I’ve realized how important training is and the chief is building all of us up by educating the staff.”

“It was beneficial to me to reinforce my strengths and to make me aware of my weaknesses and focus on the areas I need to work on and improve,” Gurule said.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.