MU Police Academy\'s move could benefit more than just students

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COLUMBIA - The Hearnes Center will not be home to the MU Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) much longer.

LETI is moving to the Mizzou North building on the corner of Business Loop 70 West and Garth Ave. after three decades of sharing facility space on the MU campus.

"There are actually several benefits," LETI Academy Coordinator Instructor Adam Duncan said. "The first and probably the most obvious is that it's dedicated space. Now, we share classroom space and meeting space with the Athletic Department, and they do a good job of kind of managing the schedule, but occasionally there are conflicts."

Duncan said the new location is also easily accessible, and it would not only benefit LETI.

"There are several campus departments that moved to that area, and it's a little bit away from the rest of campus," Duncan said. "That's a little intimidating sometimes, especially with crime rates and all those sort of things. So, having uniformed police officers coming in and out of the building kind of helps from a community relations standpoint even."

He said having officers readily available on the Business Loop could also help curb crime, especially since some of its team still works for local law enforcement. 

"Officer presence - having a police officer available and visible - is one of the tools that is pretty effective from the crime prevention standpoint," Duncan said.

Local businesses surrounding the Mizzou North facility, where LETI is moving, have mixed feelings about whether its presence will make a difference.

"I guess it would be good in the sense that, for us, just the presence of the 'police' around the street would make us feel more safe," Carlito's Cabo Manager Sara Huaco said. "We never have any incidents or problems or break-ins during the business hours. We had two break-ins out of the business hours."

Others Business Loops shops said the move itself will not change anything around the area.

"I don't see it making a big difference just because they would actually need to actively be patrolling for them to be really doing anything, I think," Break Time Manager Alex Chervitz. "I'm happy for them to have their academy wherever they're going to have one, and there's as good a place as any. I just don't see it actually making a difference on the ground."

LETI will make the official move on Monday.

It plans to fully utilize the new facility starting Jan. 5, 2015.