Polk State College and Polk County Sheriff’s Office officially announce National Public Safety Innovation Academy

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The world got a first look at the new National Public Safety Innovation Academy (NIA) during a news conference at the Polk State College Center for Public Safety.

NIA is an eight-week executive program for mid-level managers and future administrators in law enforcement and corrections. NIA, launched in partnership between Polk State College and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, is one of just three national command schools throughout the U.S.

“Some would think, ‘well, it’s a state college, it’s a state program,’ but it’s just the opposite – it’s a national program,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. “We bring the experts in from all around the country to speak to us and lecture us as to how we can be on the cutting edge. I wanted a program that’s next level and that’s what we have here.”

Classes are held at the College’s state-of-the-art Center for Public Safety in Winter Haven. The first official class began in January and features 21 participants from eight different states, four different time zones, and of six different ranks. The cohort features participants from Florida, Arizona, Alaska, Michigan, Texas, Idaho, Utah, and Virginia.

“This first class is going to be instrumental in changing our future,” said Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti. “I’m proud that this National Public Safety Innovation Academy will not only strengthen the public safety officials who participate but communities throughout the country.”

In addition to briefings from Sheriff Judd and President Falconetti, media members and NIA participants watched a drone demonstration. The use of drones is a popular technological trend in modern policing.

“I’m blessed, humbled, and very impressed with what the sheriff has put together here,” said H. Keith Weir, a participant and lieutenant with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan. “I’d say to come in, be open-minded, and be ready to be challenged.”

Over the eight weeks, participants are challenged physically and mentally as they receive hands-on training from renowned subject matter experts from across the country and examine contemporary issues, explore future trends in public safety and criminal justice. As technology modernizes in the ever-changing world of public safety and corrections, the STEM-based curriculum will evolve to meet the needs of communities across the country and create leaders who inspire others, transform their organizations, and deliver results.

“The entire program has been eye-opening,” said Capt. Nikki Bosley, a participant with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “This program has identified the areas that we really need to pay attention to. All the topics are very relative to the law enforcement environment we’re in today.”

Participants stay at Cabana Cottages in Auburndale. Located near Instate 4, Cabana Cottages was recognized as USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for 2022.

After successfully completing a Capstone Experience, where participants will apply what they have learned during the course, they will earn up to 12 college credits; those who possess an associate degree or greater will be eligible for Public Safety Advanced Technical Certificate. They will return to their communities with the skills and knowledge to craft innovative policies and procedures to address and direct high-liability situations that agencies encounter in today’s climate.

“The new way is based in science, technology, engineering, math, communications, and relationships with your communities,” Judd added. “You’re not only leaders of your agencies today, but you’re the leaders of tomorrow.”