YSU police academy first in Ohio to offer rifle training

April 15, 2014  |  
Robert Paterniti, firearms instructor with the YSU Peace Officer Training Academy, talks with cadets at the Hubbard Gun Range earlier this month.

Robert Paterniti, firearms instructor with the YSU Peace Officer Training Academy, talks with cadets at the Hubbard Gun Range earlier this month.

Through a grant of 11 rifles valued at nearly $250,000, YSU’s Basic Peace Officer Training Academy is now the only police academy in Ohio to provide training that certifies cadets in the safe and proper use of rifles.

“This is a big step toward making YSU the premier police academy in the region and the state,” said Ed Villone, commander of the YSU academy.

“This allows us to better prepare our cadets for the kinds of situations they will confront as working law enforcement officers,” said Patricia Wagner, chair of YSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.

The M-16 rifles were given to the YSU academy by the Austintown and Howland police departments through the Ohio Law Enforcement Support Office. Villone, who took the lead in securing the grant, hopes to receive an additional 19 rifles so each of the academy’s 30 cadets will have a firearm with which to train. In all, the value of the rifles would be nearly $700,000, he said.

The first group of cadets began training on the rifles earlier this month at the Hubbard Gun Range in Hubbard, Ohio. The training also includes eight hours of classroom instruction on everything from safety and cleaning the weapon to site alignment and shooting stances. After the training, cadets will be officially certified to use the weapons.

Cadet Khaled Abu-Ghannam at the Hubbard Gun Range.

Cadet Khaled Abu-Ghannam at the Hubbard Gun Range.

Villone said for many years police have carried shotguns in their cruisers. Today, however, with the proliferation of high-powered rifles on the streets, law enforcement agencies are regularly replacing or supplementing the cruiser shotguns with rifles, he said. But rifle training and certification are not required for officers to complete the basic peace officer training. That means that graduates, once hired by a police department, sheriff’s office or other law enforcement agency, must get the additional training after they are on the job.

“With the addition of rifle training at the YSU academy, our cadets will be trained and can be placed in a cruiser with a rifle on day one without any additional training,” Villone said. “Our guys are ready to go.”

The YSU Basic Police Officer Training Academy has graduated more than 800 cadets since opening in 2000. The 15-week training program certifies cadets to work as police officers in Ohio. In addition, YSU students who are working toward bachelor’s or graduate degrees and successfully complete the academy earn either 12 undergraduate credits or 6 graduate credits. For more information, call 330-941-2190.