Most educators know that learning is a lifelong experience and it is no different for law enforcement officers. In the field of law enforcement, learning lasts an entire career.
St. Francois County law enforcement officers, as well as other agencies, participated in a training last week at the Mineral Area College Law Enforcement Academy building. The training was organized by St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Gilliam.
The course, Missouri Search and Seizure Law, was designed by Assistant Federal Prosecuting Attorney H. Morley Swingle.
Swingle served as the prosecuting attorney for Cape Girardeau County from 1987-2012. Swingle is currently an attorney in the Armed Offender Unit of the Circuit Attorney’s Office in St. Louis. In his work, Swingle has prosecuted more than 145 trials and more than 80 homicides.
Swingle has been featured on several television shows including Oprah, Dateline, and Forensic Files and is the author or books including “Scoundrels to the Hoosegow,” “The Prosecution Rests,” and “The Gold of Cape Girardeau.”
“I like to do these trainings because we as prosecutors have the luxury of sitting in an office looking up the law,” said Swingle. “These men and women out on the front lines don’t have that luxury, so it’s up to us to keep them apprised of the ever-changing law.”
Officers from Park Hills Police Department, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Terre Du Lac Police Department, and even Bollinger County Sheriff’s Department attended the training.
The training was designed by Swingle to ensure that officers follow the proper steps when going from a simple traffic stop to searching a person or vehicle and then seizing evidence. Breaking procedures, even unintentionally, in these cases can cause a serious breakdown in prosecution.
Gilliam said her goal for the class is to make sure local law enforcement officers are knowledgeable and abreast of the legality of situations they encounter on the streets involving searching property or persons and the intake of evidence.
Police officers licensed prior to Jan. 1, 2019, are required to have at least 24 hours (22 of which can be completed online) of Continuing Law Enforcement Education by Dec. 31, 2019. Officers who are unable to show compliance with this training by March 15, 2020, may, at the discretion of the director of public safety, have their license made inactive. This would make an officer ineligible to hold a commission until the required training is completed.
Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.