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California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Sheriff deputies and police officers should have longer and more extensive training

Photo Contributed by Anthony Toscano
Class Sergeant Tim Tovar, conducting a Class A Inspection during the Ventura County POST Academy.

I strongly believe that peace officers (sheriff deputies and police officers) need to undergo longer, more extensive training.

My girlfriend recently graduated from the Ventura County Peace Officer Standards & Training Academy, along with 37 of her classmates. Having lived with her, I have seen second-hand what the academy looks like.

The Ventura County POST Academy is one of 20 peace officer academies in California. It runs over the course of about six months and utilizes a stress-based environment. It is one of two POST academies in California that uses a stress-based environment.

Stress environment programs train peace officers to learn in an intense, stressful environment; one that is not unlike what they will experience on the job.

Deputy Sheriff Tim Tovar, class sergeant of the 2022-02 Class said that from his experience, he felt like the academy focused on stress more than anything.

โ€œDefinitely focused on stress more than anything,โ€ Tovar said. โ€œOurs is a stress academy. So itโ€™s treated very much like boot camp in the sense that theyโ€™re in your face yelling and all that. Thereโ€™s other academies that are more academic, like Santa Barbara.โ€

I feel like six months of training is not a lot of time, but Tovar said that the academy is actually shorter in some other states.

โ€œThe academy is six months, and I think that thatโ€™s pretty long. Compared to other states, six months is a long time. Most other states do anywhere from three months to four months,โ€ Tovar said.

If he could change anything about Ventura Countyโ€™s POST academy, Tovar said heโ€™d make it less focused on stress-based training, and more focused on academics.

โ€œI would say probably focusing less on the stress part, and more on the academics,โ€ Tovar said. โ€œItโ€™s six months, and I feel like the first three to four months are focused on stress, and just the last two or three months are focused on learning actual policies and proceduresโ€ฆ A little less stress and more knowledge,โ€ Tovar said.

I think that considering a majority of the recruits going into the academy are between the ages of 21 and 25, this little training for a career that they expect to do until they retire is a disservice to not only the community but themselves.

Despite the seemingly short academy period, Tovar said that training doesnโ€™t end once you complete the academy.

โ€œJust because you passed the academy doesnโ€™t mean youโ€™re done learning,โ€ Tovar said. โ€œAll of that [training], you have to do it every two years.โ€

An anonymous female recruit who participated in the Ventura County POST Academy said that after just a few weeks in the academy, she decided it wasnโ€™t the right fit for her.ย 

โ€œI had left due to realizing it wasnโ€™t what I wanted for my futureโ€ฆ knowing that I did want a family and have kids one day, I felt like it was either going to be this jobโ€ฆ or having a family. There was no in-between,โ€ she said.

Due to the stress-based environment, the anonymous female recruit said that she felt changed after the few weeks she was in the academy.

โ€œYouโ€™re changed after that,โ€ she said. โ€œI felt like even in the short weeks I was there, you werenโ€™t the sameโ€ฆ your whole thought process and just your life was just changing.โ€

Experiencing the academy was something the anonymous female recruit said she always wanted to do, and sheโ€™s glad that she had the chance to experience it.

โ€œDefinitely a learning experience and I donโ€™t regret ever going in there. Iโ€™m definitely glad I did. It was always something I wanted to try, but ultimately it wasnโ€™t the right path for myself,โ€ she said.

The anonymous female recruit was able to experience what is, in my opinion, the hardest weeks of the academy. With that in mind, she still believes that there needs to be longer training.

โ€œI definitely think that they need more [training]โ€ฆ I think there would need to be some type of training prior to even getting more hands-on, and being in more of an academy situation like what we were in,โ€ she said. โ€œA two-week pre-academy to prep you for the running and to know how to do a memo – I donโ€™t feel like that is enough at all.โ€

An example of how short some of the training is: According to the Learning Domains, as of October 2023, the minimum amount of time spent hourly on learning Firearms/Chemical Agents is 72 hours.

According to The Ventura County POST Academy Admission Requirements and Information, the conditions that are required to become a peace officer are: A U.S. citizen, 18 or 21 years of age dependent on the law enforcement department, criminal history search, background investigations into moral character, and a medical exam studying physical, emotional, and mental condition.

One can argue that right now is one of the most controversial times to wear a badge and serve the community. There are fewer and fewer people joining the academy because people no longer want to be peace officers due to the poor media and societal view of what it means to be a โ€œcop.โ€

I believe that we should put more time into creating more extensive, better training programs for these peace officers who have the courage to step up and fill a role that so few people are cut out for.

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    AustinMay 1, 2024 at 5:44 pm

    I understand your concern with the duration of academy based training, however I believe that it should be mentioned that training does not end there. The purpose of the academy is to lay foundation of skill and knowledge as they would apply to field work. For six months, the recruits prepare their skills, abilities, and knowledge to meet the basic requirements of being a law enforcement representative. Immediately after academy, all officers undergo additional field training that must be completed in addition. Even after all this training, officers continue to undergo routine training throughout their employment. Again, I respect your opinion, but your article fails to recognize the whole picture, rather the information presented focuses on a singular point in time.