When Marcha Reumel took classes offered by the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute, her interest was more than theoretical.
Reumel, 44, is an assistant commissioner of the national police in her home country of Suriname, on South America’s northeastern coast. She came to Penn State as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, part of a federal program that provides a year of professional enrichment in the United States for leaders from countries undergoing development or political transition.
Just days before she left Suriname for the fellowship last year, Reumel was assigned a mission.
“Our police academy is very old and our laws and legislation are outdated — from the last century,” she said. In a meeting with Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Justice and Police Minister Kenneth Amoksi, she was told to “make sure that within five years our police academy is transformed.”
At Penn State, Reumel connected with the Justice and Safety Institute (JASI), which provides law enforcement training at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. She took three courses offered by the institute — police supervisory in-service training, leadership and command, and high impact supervision.
JASI instructor Louis Forst said Reumel was a valuable addition to his classes, as she was able to discuss parallels and differences between policing in the United States and Suriname.
Reumel said much of what she learned was not totally new, but she gained a different perspective on policing and police training. She has visited police academies in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country to see how they function.
Reumel said she was impressed by the technology used in the United States and in requirements for ongoing professional development for law enforcement officials.
“Those things I will take with me back home,” she said. “I like the way it’s organized here. Training on a yearly basis — that’s the most important thing I will take back.”
Reumel has bachelor’s degrees in education, music education, and police science and a master of science degree in education. She is working on a doctorate in human rights and education, specifically on how to reduce police brutality through behavioral conditioning.
In May, Reumel will head to Washington for an internship with the Organization of American States and will also affiliate with the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in a partnership made possible through her work with JASI. She said she is already at work on transforming the Suriname police academy.
JASI also has worked with international partners in Nigeria, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Arab Emirates.