Vogt leaving for Hays armed with training through Tabor, Hillsboro PD

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
Early in his two-and-a-half years as a reserve officer for the Hillsboro Police Department, Matt Vogt learned firsthand that police officers do more than eat donuts, drink coffee, drive around and issue speeding tickets.

Much, much more.

So, in an effort to pass on to other would-be reserve officers the extent of that knowledge, Vogt has spent his final few months as a Hillsboro officer developing curriculum that structures and standardizes the department’s training process.

The project was actually part of a semester-long internship that also capped the Tampa native’s time as a Tabor College student.

Vogt is newly graduated with a degree in social sciences/criminal justice.

The six-hour unpaid internship, required for Tabor seniors with a concentration in sociology practice, was a good match for the needs of both Vogt and the department, said Tabor sociology instructor and internship coordinator Debbie Gray.

“He was able to work out a good situation with chief of police (Dan Kinning) to work on additional projects and investigations not already in his job description,” Gray said.

“I think Matt was able to understand how a police department functions as a whole-(and he) developed an extensive training manual in the police department that they will use for new officers.”

The manual is designed to aid assistant police chief Jessey Hiebert in his efforts to prepare reserve and part-time officers to hit the streets by themselves, Vogt said.

“Jessey has done a great job teaching our part-timers and reserve officers the basics of law enforcement and officer safety,” Vogt said. “I just wanted to give him a little more structured, something that was a little more regulated and standardized so that each person would get the same training.”

The program should also fill in a few of the gaps and discrepancies Vogt experienced in his combination of training through the Hillsboro department and the Kansas Law Enforcement Center in Hutchinson.

“There were always situations coming up where I didn’t have the necessary groundwork,” he said of his first few months on the job. “I wanted to try and fill those gaps and make our officers as prepared as possible before they go out and hit the streets.”

Routine tasks as filling out forms, writing citations and accident reports and operating vehicles are among the topics covered in the 15-session course.

The course also includes sessions on using force and firearms, responding to domestic violence and bank alarms, making arrests, building searches, patrolling, controlling traffic and responding to crimes in progress.

“I worked closely with Jessey Hiebert and also Sgt. Chad Funk in designing this program,” Vogt said. “We designed learning objectives that are specific to Hillsboro and the stuff that we deal with-and the unique enforcement styles that we at the Hillsboro Police Department practice.”

The department’s uniqueness includes not only using part-time and reserve officers for more than just big events-thus necessitating more extensive training-but also their emphasis on educating the community.

“We try to work with people and make sure they understand the laws and why we are enforcing the laws the way we are,” Vogt said. “That’s important for the new officers to learn.”

The “go-at-your-own-pace” program includes the 15 sessions, which could be completed within a couple weeks if the new officer decided to work through it nightly, as well as 40 hours actually out on the town.

“There’s also a ride-along period that comes in after you’ve done the training sessions, to get you out on the streets with our officers and put the knowledge to work under supervision,” Vogt said.

“Then the training will be evaluated by the officers and the administration and it will be determined whether you will be allowed to patrol by yourself or whether you need some more time to be mentored.

“There’s no hard date that they work with-it’s just based on the officer’s skills and abilities.”

And although already a skilled and able reserve officer, Vogt said he has learned much during his internship about other aspects of police work.

“Things are unique in a smaller department where the chief does a lot of different things-he does investigations, he does administrative work, he does a lot of PR,” Vogt said.

“And I wanted to get a feel for that-so whenever Dan needed extra help in the office doing investigations or with administrative work, I would help him out there.”

Vogt has also been able to put into action what he’s learned in his Tabor classes about communicating with and helping people from different cultures and backgrounds.

And doing so in the variety of situations that arise on the job has become a passion, he said.

“I enjoy getting to work with people and help people in their time of need with the difficult decisions that they face every day,” he said.

“And I enjoy knowing that I’m having an impact on the commuity by deterring crime and responding to crime.”

As he prepares to take off in a couple weeks with wife Laci-he will take his memories and experience with him when he goes- Vogt hopes the community has gained as much from his time with the department as he has.

Vogt’s new position is with the Hays Police Department.

“I’m going to miss Hillsboro, because I really wanted to be able to stick around here,” he said.

“Unfortunately the job market is slim for law-enforcement officers within the county-so I had to look outside the county, and Hays is a great place for me.”

The 50-person department will offer Vogt a variety of areas for advancement, after he completes the six months of training to become a full-fledged officer.

But he knows he’ll already be bringing plenty to the job from his work with the Hillsboro PD.

“Going out there, I’ll have another way that I’ve seen it done,” he said. “I’ll have new advice and input to give to the Hays Police Department-ideas to bring to their unique problems.”

Kinning agreed that Vogt’s time with the department has been valuable for all involved.

“He’s been here long enough to get a lot of good training,” he said. “He worked when no one else could-because of his position as a college student, he was available more often.

“He did a good job, and I’m really going to miss him.”

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