How do I Choose the Best Law Enforcement Academy?

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  • Written By: Sandy Baker
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 27 December 2018
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A law enforcement academy prepares students for a career in law enforcement, such as becoming a police officer, corrections officer, or public safety communicator. Every police academy will be different. Some offer a more extensive training program, while others focus on state-of-the-art technology and advancements. If you wish to become a police officer, finding the right academy is an important step in the process. Among other considerations, you should take location, curriculum, and duration into account.

The law enforcement training you select should meet any local requirements. For example, in the United States, each state has specific requirements all police officers must meet to be qualified to sit for a state-required exam. Some types of law enforcement training done over the web may not meet these requirements.

A successful law enforcement program produces successful police officers. You may wish to request information from the law enforcement academy about where the school's alumni are in their careers. When selecting a local program, it may be possible to speak with police officers, detectives, and chiefs to find out which schools these individuals attended.

The curriculum of the law enforcement degree program should also be a consideration. Basic programs often include law, investigation, patrol operations, and traffic enforcement education. Some programs also contain courses in incident management and documentation, effective communication, and telephone procedures. Weapon handling and physical protection may also be covered. Compare several schools to determine which offers the best curriculum.


A law enforcement academy's structure and cost may also be a factor to consider. Some schools require a 12-week program, while others require 16 weeks. It may take two full years of training to obtain a full law enforcement degree, after which you can sit for any local law enforcement exams. A law enforcement academy may offer financing to cover the costs of your education, especially if the academy is part of a community college. The cost of the school may also be offset by scholarships or grants, if available.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the law enforcement academy is to visit the facilities of several schools and look around. Get to know the staff and teachers. Find out how the police academy works, and what a day-to-day schedule would be like. This type of interaction can help you to determine if the academy is right for you and meets your long-term career goals. Only after comparing all of these features should you decide on a school.



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Post 4

Of course, a lot of federal agencies require experience, so you are going to have to be a state or local cop first. I was on the job six years as a state trooper before I got on with my agency. I knew I wanted to be a trooper, so only one academy to choose from there, and the Border Patrol has one. So the choice was easy. This is not typical, though. Applying to only one academy means you really have to work hard to get in because you have no backup. I was lucky.

Post 3

@emtbasic - That is good advice if you want to be a state or local officer. If your interest is in federal law enforcement, you probably only have one academy for each agency. So in a way, your choice is really easy. There's only one! Of course, most people apply to more than one agency since it takes so long to get selected for a lot of them.

Post 2

I know that when I went through the academy it was easy for me to pick which department I wanted to work for, because only a few of the ones in my metro area were hiring at the time. It should be pretty easy to find out who's looking for new cadets in your area, and go from there. The easiest thing to do is figure out where you do *not* want to be a cop, and eliminate those departments. Then apply to the rest of them.

Any full-time municipal department is probably going to have a good academy, since the requirements for what they teach you are set by the state, and you have to pass the state certification when you are done. So everyone who gets hired, at least in theory, has met the same qualifications at the state level.

Post 1

Personally, I would center my choices on the area or areas where I wanted to live. Lots of agencies are going to have good, worthwhile academies, but getting selected to attend one where you have no interest in living or working is not going to do you very much good.

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