After applying for a position as an officer with the San Jose Police Department (SJPD), passing the written, physical and oral exams, and making it through the background check, you are hired by the City of San José. Now, the notification you have been waiting for arrives ... your start day at the San Jose Police Academy.
The San Jose Police Academy provides the skills and training so recruit officers have a foundation to navigate their way through the FTO (Field Training Officer) program and emerge as solo beat SJPD officers.
The recruits are men and women from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. They attend the San Jose Police Academy as paid employees for approximately six months, five days a week, usually from 7 AM to 4 PM. Depending on the activity, some training is conducted after hours and on weekends. The San Jose Police Academy is not a "live-in" academy. Recruit officers are responsible for their own living arrangements and transportation. That said, the recruit officers are given the basic equipment that they will use at the academy, including the khaki uniform (used during the first months), utility uniform, ties and tie tacks, duty belt, hand gun, and radio.
What do the recruits study?
The beginning phase at the academy follows a POST-approved curriculum covering leadership, professionalism, ethics, policing in the community, and laws of arrest, Within the first two weeks, recruits are introduced to arrest control techniques, defensive tactics, and shooting abilities. They also go through "ground-level" classes such as crimes against property, From this foundation, the recruits move onto areas like defensive driving and EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operation Course), and scenarios.
"The San Jose Police Academy goes into so many facets of police work, like ethical policing, procedural justice, and juvenile law. We delve into each category and subcategory to give the recruits the background they need when they're out on the streets. Of course, once you're out there, you're still learning. I've been with department for many years and I still find something new every day when I'm teaching the recruits." — Sergeant Paul Fontaine, Director of the San Jose Police Academy
Some of the areas covered at the academy include:
- California Laws (Penal Codes, Vehicle Codes, Health and Safety Codes)
- Fire Arms Training
- Search and Seizure Laws
- Criminal Investigations
- Emergency Response Driving
- Vehicle Car Stops
- Officer Safety
- Report Writing
- Crime Scene Management
- Accident Investigation
- Police Officer Ethics
- Building Searches
- Non-Lethal Weapons Training
- Defensive Tactics
- Arrest and Control Techniques
- Radio Communication Codes
- Recognition of Illegal Substances and Narcotics
- Recognition of Under the Influence
- Evidence Collection
- Juvenile Laws
Who are the academy instructors?
The staff and instructors at the San Jose Police Academy are SJPD officers, who applied for the position. After the interview process, the officers are assigned to the academy for three years. These officers go through extensive training before becoming an instructor. Currently, the San Jose Police Academy has two sergeants, each assigned to an academy class, four Recruit Training Officers (RTO), a coordinator and assistant coordinator. One of the sergeants serves as the director, who is in charge of schedules and working with POST.
History of the San Jose Police Academy
Prior to 1930, there was no organized police training for new officers in San Jose. Rookies were placed on a walking beat and expected to gain on-the-job experience and use common sense. In 1930, a police school was started at San Jose State College. It was a two-year program for students interested in law enforcement and in-service police personnel.
"In the late 1950s a two-week orientation program had been implemented [at SJPD], but this program was very limited in scope and involved only a cursory overview of the mechanics of the department. New officers received little, or in some instances, no “on the job” training. When first introduced to patrol duties, officers were assigned indiscriminately to a senior officer who happened to be working the same schedule." — Sharon A. Moore and Aleda M. Womack of the SJPD
In the early 1960s the San Jose Police Department recruits began participating in regional police academies under the auspices of the California Commission of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Although the recruits were instructed about the various aspects of law enforcement and policing, they had no opportunity to practice their skills in a controlled environment. And, upon leaving the Academy, the recruits were immediately assigned to patrol with a solo beat officer who was responsible for evaluating the rookie.
To address the need for transitioning recruits from the Academy to patrol, the SJPD developed the Field Training Program (FTO) in 1971.
In 1999, a SJPD training center opened on North 4th Street.
By 2001, the SJPD experienced enough growth to fill its own academy classes. The San Jose Police Academy was formalized and certified by POST. During this period, the Academy was hosted at the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Center at Evergreen College. The academy staff included SJPD Recruit Training Officers (RTOs) and a sergeant. The Academy also operated out of buildings in the San Jose Civic Center area.
Due to severe cutbacks and staffing reductions in the City of San José, the San Jose Police Academy was shut down from 2009 to 2012, During this period, there were no active classes and POST withdrew the certification from the San Jose Police Academy.
By 2012, the need for more police officers prompted the hiring of recruits. San Jose Police Academy classes were operated under the authority of South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium. The classes were staffed by SJPD RTOs and a sergeant.
Two years later, the San Jose Police Academy moved to the San Jose Police Department South Substation on Great Oaks Parkway, which was transformed into an academy and training center.
In 2016, POST re-certified the San Jose Police Academy as an independently-operated police academy. The number of recruits continue to grow with each class.