“Regional Training." To some, regional training might sound like a way to get out of the office and learn a new technique for their job. To others the terms conjure up meetings, where attendance is required and attendees watch hours of PowerPoint slides.
To David Cheek, transportation planner at Mark Twain RegionalCouncil of Governments, regional training means the eight counties he works with get to experience for the first time training offered by PedNet through Missouri Livable Streets. “I was just excited and pleased to be able to reach out to the area that we serve and being able to offer the training such as it was, to come of our more rural police departments,” he said. “That was gratifying.”
Based in Perry, Mo., Mark Twain Regional Council of Government (MTRCOG) is one of seven communities and/or organizations Missouri Livable Streets is assisting in active design training and education. The Council is governed by an executive board, which has two representatives from each county that it represents. Their primary purpose is to set policies for the operation of the Council and the development of the region.
All eight counties the MTRCOG serves, Audrain, Marion, Monroe, Macon, Ralls, Randolph, Pike and Shelby were invited to participate in the first training session and will be involved going forward.
One of the novel and critical training programs offered by Missouri Livable Streets in collaboration with PedNet is law enforcement training. While educating the public and motorists about Livable Streets or active design elements and laws is critical, another key element is training police and law enforcement professional on these elements and laws, too.
“When you live in a rural community with only one police officer, I mean, they still have a lot of stuff to do, and probably getting training on how to deal with bicyclists is not at the top of their list,” Cheek said. However, Cheek agreed that as enforcers of local laws and policies, officers are natural stakeholders in the process.
MTRCOG’s training for law enforcement professionals was held in June for a small team of officers from the area. Officers learned the rules and regulations bicyclists need to follow, and other laws that pertain to bicycling. Cheek explained that most of the officers were from rural towns, and the training was an opportunity to share information about laws and regulations with which they might be less familiar.
Cheek shared, “I think that is where the best value came from for the officers; they probably hadn’t had this type of training, and it was definitely beneficial that it was POST certified.”
(POST stands for Peace Officer Standards and Training and all sworn officers must maintain these peace officer licenses. According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, all licensed peace officers and reserve officers must complete at least 48 hours continuing education to maintain their peace officer license.)