By Jeff Murphy, August 10, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO – While the University of Central Missouri celebrates its 150th year, another milestone is being achieved at UCM. The Central Missouri Police Academy (CMPA) will commemorate its 50th anniversary Thursday, Aug. 19, honoring the lives and work of former cadets while also providing a look at a new high-tech classroom made possible with funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The celebration begins at the main classroom with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m.
by invitation only, followed by a gathering of CMPA alumni and faculty from 2 to 4
p.m. All activities take place at the CMPA training facility at 200 Ming St., in Warrensburg.
Members of UCM’s Missouri Safety Center, the university’s governing board, administrators,
members of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, and special guests
will be there to recognize the contributions CMPA makes every day to training law
enforcement personnel across the nation.
While those attending the 1 p.m. ceremony will have an opportunity to tour the new
technologically enhanced classroom, the event is also a time of remembrance. Five
law enforcement officers who graduated from the academy and were killed in the line
of duty while serving in Miller County, Cass County, Clinton, Missouri, and Overland
Park, Kansas, also will be honored.
“This is important because those officers made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Tim Lowry,
CMPA director, who is a UCM alumnus, a graduate of the academy, and a retired officer
from the Warrensburg Police Department.
He said the families of individuals who whose lives were lost in the line of duty have been invited to the ceremony, which includes the first public viewing of the CMPA Cadet Memorial Wall. Located in the main classroom, the wall features a plaque and information about each of the fallen heroes. They are Mike Mosher, who died while attempting to arrest a hit-and-run suspect in Overland Park, Kansas, in 2020; Clinton police officers Gary Lee Michael, Jr., and Christopher Ryan Morton, who died in 2018 of gunshot wounds they sustained after responding to a 911 call at a Clinton residence. it also includes Miller County Deputy Sheriff Sandra Belle Wilson, who was shot and killed in 1991 in California, Missouri while participating in a day-long search for a suspect, and Cass County Deputy Sheriff Kevin M. Mayse, who died in 1995, four days after sustaining injuries in a vehicle crash that occurred during a pursuit.
While special recognition is being given to these officers, CMPA staff member Angela
Ford said the academy will expand the memorial wall display in the future as more
information is known about other cadets who may have been killed in action.
“We know there are others. We have been asking for individuals to come forward and share that information with us,” Ford said.
The ribbon cutting is an opportunity to call attention to the collaborative efforts
between UCM offices that led to the creation of the new classroom. Lowry worked with
Ray Walters, multimedia coordinator in the Office of Technology, to transform what
was previously a gymnasium into a “classroom in the round.” Serving as the main training
room for CMPA, enhancements to this space were made possible with the assistance of
federal funding. This included approximately $150,000 spent on technology and about
$15,000 for construction, according to Walters.
“This was 100% covered by CARES funds and put directly in to use for social distancing
needs in light of COVID-19,” he noted. He added that some elements of the room design
were borrowed from looking at a training facility at the University of Kansas Medical
“This setup places the educator in the middle of the room with the students gathered
around them. From a mobile podium, the educator teachers and roams around the room,”
Walters said. “On every wall, we installed large projector screens that use state-of-the-art
laser projection to share course content. No matter where a student sits in the room
they can see both the educator and the screen.”
“Lastly, we installed two cameras for remote viewing and recording,” Walters said.
“Educators are given wireless microphones to both communicate to distance attendees
as well as voice amplification in the gym itself.”
He noted that this newly renovated area allows CMPA to accept more cadets into the program. It offers more space for both-in-person attendance and social distancing.
Lowry said CMPA is currently providing instruction to the 162nd class since its founding
in 1971. He is one of only five individuals who have served as a program director
since the academy began. A pioneer in the role of director, Mike Wiggins, an emeriti
faculty member, taught criminal justice courses and also served the academy. He is
helping to plan the event and will be among guest speakers at the 50-year celebration.
The academy began in the Humphreys Building, and was later moved to a small house
that was located on the west side of campus. The current location was previously an
elementary school that was affiliated with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which was
then located on the east side of the street.
The academy annually brings individuals from many states to campus to pursue courses
in a certificate program that follows the Basic 600-hour Class-A Academy, licensed by the Missouri Department
of Public Safety’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Program. During the 825-850
scheduled hours of the CMPA program, cadets are eligible to receive up to 18 hours
of credit through Prior Learning toward a bachelor’s degree and are eligible to become
a licensed peace officer upon passing the Police Officer Selection Test (POST).
“Something that is important to us – to be POST approved a police officer has to have 600 hours. We do about 250 hours more than what POST has them do. A lot of those things are classes that we think are important to really develop them so that they will be great police officers,” Lowry said. But he also added, “We truly believe that we’re not just trying to produce police officers, we are producing graduates who will someday be leaders in those law enforcement agencies, too.”
The CMPA emphasizes to cadets the value of the role police play in their communities, particularly at a challenging time in the nation’s history.
“We’re teaching them to be the change in what they are seeing in the world – to immerse themselves into their communities and make a difference and be the change in how police are viewed,” Ford said. “A lot of our supplemental classes teach that.”