Government | Sauk Valley News

Dixon police sergeant to head Sauk Valley Community College training academy

Jason LaMendola will serve as director, which will have its first police cadets in January

Sauk Valley College criminal justice student Anthony Escatel of Dixon works at a computer simulator at the school Wednesday, March 2, 2022. There have been talks of a police academy being located at SVCC.

DIXON – A 25-year veteran of the Dixon Police Department will head the new police academy coming to Sauk Valley Community College.

The Sauk Board of Trustees approved hiring Dixon police Sgt. Jason LaMendola on Monday as the director of the police academy, which is scheduled to launch with its first batch of cadets in January.

He will begin in August to ready the academy.

“We are proud to have Sergeant LaMendola leading our first police academy here at SVCC, where his great background in teaching and community policing will not only provide great training to Sauk Valley’s law enforcement officers, but also those throughout the state,” said Jon Mandrell, Sauk’s vice president of academics and student services.

LaMendola has more than 25 years in law enforcement experience, including being the patrol supervisor sergeant, field staff instructor, school resource officer for eight years, and as a special weapons and tactics team leader for Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm Systems Region 2. He also has training in terrorism event response.

He’s a certified instructor for ALICE training for school shooter situations as well as Gracie Survival Tactics in jiu jitsu.

“Sergeant Jason LaMendola has been a great asset to the Dixon Police Department over the past 25 years,” Dixon Police Chief Steve Howell said. “His knowledge, leadership, and most importantly, his ability as an instructor will assist him in creating the gold standard for police academies and for the future men and women in the law enforcement profession.”

LaMendola has worn many hats during his law enforcement tenure.

He’s served as team leader for a multi-agency tactical response team, patrol officer, detective, sergeant, and the aforementioned SWAT.

“His training and experiences were recently recognized by the Illinois Fire Service Institute serving as Field Staff Instructor for critical incident management courses,” according to a college news release. “LaMendola has given back to the community by implementing related training programs for local businesses and churches regarding active shooter response and incident management.”

“From responding in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina as a task force team leader, to Dixon High School’s active shooter incident, or SWAT team call-outs, he has gained leadership and management skills from various scales,” the release added.

Earlier this year, the college started working with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to become a site for a police academy, which will be the first in northwest Illinois.

“In talking with our local law enforcement and municipalities, we have identified a dire need, which is to provide immediate access for training the local community police officers for the Sauk Valley and beyond,” Mandrell said.

New law enforcement officers are sent to one of seven police academies throughout the state where they receive 560 hours of training across 14 weeks. Academies are in Chicago, River Grove, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Belleville and Glen Ellyn.

At this time, SVCC provides degrees in criminal justice, as well as police simulation training.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.