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Palm Beach County Police Academy Closing??


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  • Palm Beach County Police Academy Closing??

    From the Sun-Sentinel..

    School that trained thousands of Palm Beach County officers could be closed

    Chiefs question performance of academy

    By Luis F. Perez
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    Posted May 14 2006

    The school that has trained thousands of Palm Beach County law enforcement officers has for years violated state regulations, prompting numerous state investigations and drawing sharp criticism from a few local police departments, including one that now sends most recruits elsewhere, records show.

    Earlier this month, state regulators halted the recertification process for the Palm Beach County Community College Criminal Justice Institute after yet another investigation into rules violations. The school could be shut down this summer if it is not recertified because of violations, officials said. Of 41 in the state, the PBCC academy is the only one facing that prospect.

    In addition, the state filed a complaint in March against a former instructor who taught police and corrections recruits despite a felony record. Also, instructors were teaching recruits defensive tactics, including how to use guns without the required equipment, such as gun belts.

    James Marinelli, director of the school for 12 months, stepped down after latest violations surfaced. But turmoil has dogged the Criminal Justice Institute for years and spilled into public view last year when local police chiefs questioned its performance.

    Last spring, then-Boca Raton Police Chief Andrew Scott, who had just taken a seat on the chiefs council that oversees local police training, on March 10 sent a letter about numerous noncompliance issues and complaints filed against the academy.

    In the previous three years, Boca Raton sent 29 recruits to the Broward County police academy and only three to Palm Beach County, Scott wrote.

    The academy, which has a $1.5 million budget, trains hundreds of police and corrections recruits a year. During the four-month program, recruits are taught about the law, how to use weapons and how to drive a police car. They continue training on the job.

    A police academy's poor record increases the liability of the college, the academy and agencies that hire recruits -- all at taxpayer expense, police training specialists said.

    "If you have a police academy that doesn't follow the rules, then what kind of recruits are they going to produce?" asked Maki Haberfeld, chairwoman of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

    "A lot of rookies are exposed to their first idea about what policing is at the academy and internalize those ideas."

    History of complaints

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement required the academy to submit a plan in 2003 on how it intended to fix chronic problems with following state regulations. Tom Berlinger, a department spokesman, said state officials with at least a decade of experience couldn't recall another training center having to create such a plan.

    College officials defend the academy's performance, saying it is quick to fix the minor infractions state auditors and investigators find. Ginger Pedersen, dean of curriculum, planning and research, said the academy has many employees and hundreds of instructors, and they make mistakes.

    Still, college officials have been unable to prevent those mistakes from happening again and again.

    The Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, which oversees academies across the state, postponed a decision May 4 on whether to recertify the academy pending an investigation into rules violations made by two employees, including its acting director. The commission plans to consider certification again Aug. 3 after completing an investigation.

    Before Marinelli's departure on March 31, he faced a staff with low morale and resignations of top-level employees, records show. Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports and internal documents show about 50 complaints during his tenure, including employee harassment, failure to respond to state concerns and questions about unethical behavior.

    "I am leaving my position to pursue college teaching opportunities," Marinelli wrote in an e-mail. "I am extremely proud of our accomplishments at the [police academy] for the past 12 years and especially proud of the support we have received from the Palm Beach County Chiefs of Police Association and the community in general."

    Pedersen reprimanded Marinelli in August 2003 for failing to alert her or any other college official about infractions FDLE found, which Marinelli acknowledge was a problem, records show.

    In a staff memo weeks after the reprimand, Marinelli wrote: "In each of these instances our students have been put in extremely precarious situations jeopardizing their certification as future police officers and our reputation as a quality provider of law enforcement training to this region."

    James Kelly, chairman of the regional training council, downplayed FDLE criticisms found in its annual inspections and audits.

    "Auditors note every detail," said Kelly, chief of the Palm Beach County School District Police Department. "That's their job."

    Marinelli worked for Kelly in the 1980s as a school police officer. He recently applied for a job with the school district Police Department again, but he wasn't hired.

    It's common for inspectors across the state to find academies violating rules from time to time, Berlinger said. Academies usually fix the problems quickly, as Palm Beach County has done. However, Vickie Marsey, FDLE bureau of standards chief, said Palm Beach County's academy has seen more complaints than usual over the last several years.

    Problem instructors

    Records show those complaints included:

    The college found out in the fall that Tim Kozyra, who had worked fulltime at the academy since 2001, pleaded guilty to felony charges in Palm Beach County, and adjudication was withheld in 1990, records show. That made him ineligible to become a certified training instructor.

    Kozyra signed his certification applications attesting that he never was convicted or had pleaded guilty to a felony in 2005, 2004, 2001 and 1997, records show. The commission filed a complaint March 14 to strip Kozyra of his certificate to teach at police academies.

    Kozyra taught hundreds of courses to police and corrections recruits, including law classes that covered legal ethics, records show.

    "It's something that in no way impacted the academy or my qualifications to serve as coordinator," he said.

    An instructor lied about the days he said he taught, submitting false sign-in sheets and not giving required tests, according to a 2000 FDLE memo. The instructor didn't give the required final exam in three, 40-hour courses. He quit before disciplinary action could be taken, records show.

    Another instructor taught massage therapy and acupuncture to recruits during a stress-reduction course.

    She never received training to teach either, was not licensed and it wasn't part of the curriculum, according to a 2002 FDLE memo. The academy didn't rehire her, records show.

    The FDLE reported two guns missing after the academy improperly traded in 29 of 60 revolvers for 22 Glock pistols and three magazines valued at close to $8,000. The trade violated state rules, a 2005 audit showed. Academy and college officials said the missing guns was an administrative mix-up and were later located.

    Questions start

    It was missing paperwork from the file of a recruit whom Manalapan Police Chief Clay Walker was looking to hire that caused some police chiefs to start questioning the school's performance. Walker asked the DLE to investigate. The state agency referred the matter to the regional training council.

    Kelly investigated and found he could not prove that someone removed records from files because there was no system in place to find out who had access to them, according to a March 2005 letter. He recommended the academy track and limit access to its files. Walker ended up not hiring the recruit for other reasons.

    South Palm Beach Police Chief Roger Crane questioned the quality of the academy's instructors, especially for advanced training. Experienced officers often came back from the academy without any new skills, he said.

    Pedersen said the college has launched a national search for Marinelli's replacement and has formed a committee that includes local police chiefs to review applicants.

    Walker said the academy needs a director whose integrity wouldn't be questioned, but that its troubles shouldn't be blamed on Marinelli alone.

    The college should have added staff members and more oversight to resolve the recurring paperwork problems, safety violations and instructors' performance issues, he said.

    And the county's police chiefs should have been more vocal in demanding what they want from the academy.

    "We weren't paying attention to what was going on over there," Walker said, referring to the chiefs. "We should have kept him [Marinelli] on track."

    Luis F. Perez can be reached at or 561-243-6641.
    I don't answer recruitment messages....

  • #2
    i know quite a few pepole that went thru that academy, all they had to say were good thing,,,,,kinda shocking in a way......

    but nothing surprises me...
    " if you talk in your sleep, don't mention my name....
    " if you walk in your sleep, forget where you came....


    • #3
      PBSO had 40 something people that were supposed to start the academy this coming week. They have all been pulled and are being sent to Broward. It looks like the PBCC academy is going to have some major problems...
      In law enforcement, the customer is ALWAYS wrong.

      In God we trust. Everyone else is run through NCIC.

      Sometimes there is justice. Sometimes there is just us.

      I'd rather be tried by 12 then carried by 6.

      The opinions given in my posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only.


      • #4
        Jupiter has started dealing with IRCC....I had a friend who went through the fire academy at PBCC and said that when he graduated that he felt confident that he could do the job.....he said the same thing when he graduated ATEC EMT school. He went through PBCC Police Academy and felt totally clueless....he learned everything in FTO. He is a really bright kid too. I guess he felt that they were a little to into the DI crap and not enough into teaching...Just his opinion as stated to me. I went to IRCC.
        Give a man a fish, he eats for a day....Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime


        • #5
          Tim Kozyra was an administator for the academy when I went through, he was a good guy. Marinelli was also cool. They did teach the basics their good enough that you would not get jammed up on FTO. I went through the academy in the late 90s so things might have changed since then. I have also worked for two departments since I graduated and have not had any problem in either FTO. I guess they will just have more trouble getting new recruits in Palm beach.


          • #6
            I attended PBCC's academy in 2003 with Tim Kozyra and the Director in question. I had no problems getting through FTO. However, I dont give a damm how "nice" both of these people are. The point given the information presented is that Kozyra is a liar and convicted felon. Its funny how he presented this extreme religious image of himself and family.. probably to cover up the lie that he was living during the day. The director was your usual tough guy NYPD cocky cop. Nice to see he wasnt even picked up to baby sit the kids.

            I dont know all the facts or both sides of the story but it was kind of sad to read the story being that I attended their academy. I am glad that it was exposed and hopefully FDLE will correct the situation.


            • #7
              Sco0437 it does not state what the kozyra plead to. It could have been possesion of prescription drugs without a prescription. If you weren't aware people plea guilty all the time were adjudication is withheld because they can't afford an attorney other then the one offered by the public offender. Since he received no jail time I am sure it was a 3rd degree felony. I know one deputy in PBSO who after being caught for shop lifting was allowed to remain in the training department. Since you went through FTO without a problem I think the academy did its job.


              • #8
                Well... that sucks... i was planning on attending there in oct. oh man. . .


                • #9

                  Are you a lawyer? No matter what you say, I dont think you can justify lying repeatedly to FDLE on one of their official documents. Or do you think you can? I know all about different pleadings and that is not the point.

                  Its about a person with a felony conviction teaching future Police Officers.. But I guess since he is a 'nice' person thats ok right???

                  But then again you are in the Bay Area.. I'm a strong conservative LEO and believe in ethics thats all.

                  Ps... unless you have the court records I dont think you can say what class of felony it is... shoplifting is a misd.. not a felony.. unless over 300.00... but when you say shoplifting, it is a misd. which is usually ok with FDLE


                  • #10
                    sco0437 no I am not a lawyer. I am a former LEO(5 years) who when I attended Kozyra was on the administrative staff, not an instructor. As an administrative staff he was not in Violation of FDLE guidelines. But enough with his defense because I don't care that he lost his job as an instructor. I was just stateing he was cool with me. Their are varying degrees of scumminess, unless I knew what his crime was I can't say I would not say hello if I saw him(I would not hang out with him though). I know FDLE will not pull your ticket for certain misd. but I found it messed up that PBSO did not let him go(his credibility is shot as far as going to court).


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