At the Meridian Police Department, all new Community Service Officers are required to attend 5-week in-house academy. The academy is conducted with a focus on education, and is not conducted as a military style, stress-discipline academy. During the academy, new officers will spend time in the classroom learning about Meridian City Ordinances and Department Policy, receive training on how to process a crime scene (i.e. crime scene photographs, dusting for fingerprints, collecting evidence, etc.) be certified to use Less than Lethal weapons systems, and learn Defensive Tactics skills.


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Tara Smith

Sergeant Tara Smith joined the Meridian Police Department in 2004 after receiving a degree in Education from Utah State University. She initially worked in the Patrol Division, where she was a Field Training Officer for several years. In 2012, Sergeant Smith was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division as a General Crimes Detective. In 2016, she was promoted to Sergeant and returned to the Patrol Division until 2019, when she was given the opportunity to assist with the creation of the Meridian-Nampa Joint Patrol Academy. Sergeant Smith currently serves as the Academy Coordinator for Meridian, as well as manages the day-to-day training needs of the department. 

Brian Lueddeke

Corporal Lueddeke attended San Jose State University through 1993 and majored in Criminal Justice.  He has worked for the Meridian Police Department since 2003 with his current assignment as a corporal in the Office of Professional Standards. Having been a Field Training Officer for 13 years, Corporal Lueddeke now serves as part of the Meridian-Nampa Joint Patrol Academy cadre.  Corporal Lueddeke joined the training academy with 16 years of SWAT experience, 8 of which as a sniper.  Corporal Lueddeke is a master instructor for Excited Delirium and In Custody Death Prevention.  Corporal Lueddeke also instructs Sniper Marksmanship and Tactics, Firearms, Defensive Tactics, Carotid Control Hold, Building Searches and Active Shooters.  


Upon graduation from the Community Service Officer academy, new officers will be assigned to the Field Training Program. During the Field Training Program, officers will gain hands-on experience under the guidance of a Field Training Officer. 

After successfully completing the Field Training Program, Community Service Officers will be assigned to the Patrol Division where they will work as members of patrol teams. 







MONDAY-FRIDAY:  7:00 AM - 5:00 PM




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Training Officer
Justin Northway

In 2007, I joined the Meridian Police Department. For the first ten years of my law enforcement career, I worked as a Patrol Officer and Field Training Officer. As a Field Training Officer, I enjoyed teaching and instructing new police officers. In 2017, I became a Detective and served in the Criminal Investigations Division for approximately two years. In 2019, I had the privilege of being selected to become our department’s first Training Officer, where I currently work and assist with department wide training and instruct at our Meridian and Nampa Joint Police Academy.

Training Officer
Tavita Messenger

Officer Messenger joined the Meridian Police Department in 2016 with 2 years of prior law enforcement experience with the Twin Falls Police Department.  Officer Messenger worked as a Patrol Officer and was later selected to be a Field Training Officer and Meridian Police Department Instructor.  He has a passion and aptitude for raising up the next generation of officers which made for a seamless transition to the Meridian-Nampa Joint Patrol Academy as a Training Officer in September of 2021.  Officer Messenger also serves on the Recruiting Team searching for quality individuals with a desire to serve in the Meridian community.