SAVOY, Ill., (WCIA) — A longtime director is retiring from a career of training the next generation of those who keep you safe.

Michael Schlosser, the director of the Police Training Institute at the U of I, is retiring.

He’s taught many classes and over 7,000 students over his 25-year career at the institute. He said he’s always wanted to be in law enforcement, and follow in his uncle’s footsteps.

Schlosser started his career with the Rantoul Police Department at 21 years old. He said he enjoyed connecting with everyone in the community. So much so that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to join the staff at the Police Training Institute at first. That quickly changed.

“I started off as an instructor and taught virtually everything there was to teach,” he said.

That included de-escalation and arrest and control tactics classes. Then, he moved into the director position, a role he never imagined filling.

“I’m very motivated to make sure that our recruits are safe, they’re competent, and they understand the importance of community policing,” Schlosser said.

Through his over 20-year career at the institute, he said he’s also focused on teaching skills to expand outside of the mats he teaches on.

“I teach officer wellness, stress management and resilience,” Schlosser said. “Things like that because there’s a lot of stressors in policing. We want them to manage it, we want them to make it through their career.” 

Recruits and other instructors said it’s an important balance, and Schlosser strives to create a fun and safe environment.

“He’s been such an awesome mentor that every time working with him is something special,” Kenneth Palmer, another instructor, said.

Palmer was one of Schlosser’s students but has now worked alongside him for 19 years.

“People learn better when it’s positive rather than being yelled at,” Palmer said.

He feels that negative reinforcement takes away from training time.

Rowdy Randall, one of the recruits, said he looks forward to Schlosser’s classes.

“Just non-stop positivity and positive reinforcement type of stuff. That’s something I haven’t had a lot of experience with in the past, but it’s definitely a lot easier to learn in that environment,” Randall said.

Randall said he knows all of the students will miss Schlosser’s daily jokes. He makes sure to tell at least one every day.

The Institute hasn’t announced a new director yet. Schlosser said he’ll be retiring in the spring, and spending more time with his family.

He still wants to be involved with law enforcement in some way but isn’t sure what that will look like yet.