Clarksville Police Department: A New Training Destination for Law Enforcement

CPD Sign

CLARKSVILLE, IN (April 19, 2022) – When you think of the latest advancements in Law Enforcement training, the Town of Clarksville, Indiana may not be the first community that comes to mind.  However, Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer is making a good case to change the minds of those who may think that way.

Since being made the top cop in Clarksville in 2012, Palmer has been working diligently to make Clarksville a destination for law enforcement officers to find the latest training on police tactics. In the past, the Clarksville Police Department and other smaller departments would have to send officers hours away to the important training they needed to do their jobs safely.  Some may ask why officers don’t just drive across the river to Louisville for training, but Chief Palmer says the training standards and requirements in Indiana are much different than those in Kentucky, so training in Louisville just wasn’t an option.

“Normally you had to go well outside our area to get proper training,” said Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer. “You had to go west to Evansville, or north to Indianapolis or further than that to get the training for things such as hostage negotiation, SWAT, field training officer.”

Previous CPD Training Room

Palmer says he has always had a passion for training and officer education.  In fact, he says when he first became an officer his goal was to be the lead trainer for a department and not a police chief.  Now that he is Chief, Palmer says he has the necessary position to make Clarksville the training destination he always dreamed of creating.  He says his mission started small, by expanding a small meeting room that could seat 10-15 officers to a large training room (pictured right) that could fit up to 40 officers comfortably.  Once that room was finished, Palmer and his staff got to work spreading the word that the new Clarksville training program was up and running.  They reached out to small departments within 100 miles and offered to host training sessions on various topics.  By hosting the training here in Clarksville, Palmer says the department not only saves on travel costs, it also allows him to get more of his officers involved in the training.

“Instead of paying to send two officers to training elsewhere, I could get five or six officers trained since the department didn’t have to pay for lodging or travel,” said Palmer.  “The cost savings for us is unbelievable”

The expanded training program was a hit at first, drawing officers from departments as far away as Alaska, Las Vegas, Texas, the Virgin Islands, and even the island of Sipan.  Just as the program was beginning to take off, it hit a major speed bump known as COVID-19.  Due to the epidemic, Chief Palmer and his team were forced to suspend or limit training in Clarksville.  However, instead of sitting idle, Chief Palmer saw the pause created by the virus as an opportunity to expand the training program.  He got to work with his staff on a plan to create an even larger training area within the department.

“We knew that when COVID ended, all these departments would be hungry to start training again,” said Palmer. “So we wanted to be ready with a new and expanded training room and program.”

New Larger CPD Training Room

The first thing they would need is a larger space to work with, as well as permission from the Town Council to proceed with the project.  Palmer says that wasn’t a problem because the Town Council has been very supportive of his vision to make Clarksville a training destination.  The space for the expanded training room was found in an area of the building being used as a storage space. The next question was how to cover the construction costs for the new space.  The expansion of the current training room was paid for with LOIT funds, or Local Option Income Tax funds , which can be used for projects that improve public safety.  This new project would cost even more, so Chief Palmer decided to make those who break the law pay for the expansion.

“For the latest expansion, not a dime came from the taxpayers.  This was all paid for out of the drug fund. So, the lowering of the ceiling, the new heating and air, carpet, paint, A/V equipment, it was all paid for out of the drug fund.”

When Clarksville Police make drug arrests, they sometimes confiscate money along with drugs seized as part of those arrests.  That money then gets deposited into the drug fund.  That fund also supports the purchase of other equipment and public safety initiatives such as the Junior Police Academy program. Palmer says the new training room is nearly complete.  All that is needed is additional furniture, some new technology, and wall graphics.  He says the new space will allow them to host as many as 80 officers for training sessions.  Another new feature is a large garage door that will allow them to bring a police cruiser into the room for additional training courses.

Palmer says his ultimate goal will be for Clarksville to eventually have its own police academy, but he says he is proud of his team’s accomplishments in expanding the training options in Southern Indiana.

“Even though I am satisfied with the benefits the Town of Clarksville is getting out of this expanded training program, it is even more satisfying to see other small departments in the area benefitting from our efforts.”