College of DuPage has named Michael Casey as the manager of the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy and the Homeland Security Education Center.
Casey joined the college June 1 and brings with him an extensive background in law enforcement.
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Casey began his law enforcement career with the DuPage County sheriff's police before spending 26 years as an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In his time with the agency, he worked several undercover operations, including the investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of the leaders of the Latin Kings gang in Chicago.
"It was good work, but it was dangerous work," he said of his nearly three decades with the agency. "I guess I had the right ideas and the enthusiasm you need to stay."
One of six credentialed police academies in Illinois, SLEA offers training for new recruits from a variety of local departments. In his new role, Casey said he is responsible for the continued success of the agency and hopes to expand training opportunities not only for recruits, but seasoned officers as well.
"We do a lot of hands-on training and I would like to introduce more of that to make the experience for our recruits as practical as possible," he said.
Practical experience is vitally important in law enforcement, the Woodridge resident said. While SLEA's curriculum is state-mandated, Casey said he does hope to add more opportunities for scenario-based training. That, along with additional online coursework, could produce better-trained officers, he said.
"At the academy, we try to do scenarios as close to real life as possible because it really is one of the best training tools," Casey said.
"While you certainly can learn from books, there are variables in practical training you just don't find in the traditional classroom setting. We're here to prepare these recruits for real-life police work."
Casey also said he'd like to explore additional training opportunities beyond those currently offered for existing law enforcement officers.
"So much has changed in law enforcement in the past several years, and we must continue to offer the very best training to keep our men and women safe," he said.