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The Police Academy
a rich history
The Los Angeles Police Academy is truly reflective of the City’s historic, yet contemporary, spirit. Used as a setting for the 1932 Olympic Game’s pistol and rifle competitions, the Academy remains a favorite of film makers, whose images of the "Academy Arches" have created a home-town landmark that is recognizable around the world. At the same time, today’s new recruits continue to receive some of the most extensive and innovative police training in the world.
The Los Angeles Police Academy is less than ten minutes from the Civic Center, located in the 21-acre Elysian Park complex. The Academy is nestled in a picturesque setting of fountains, waterfalls, pine trees, and flowers. The classrooms, gymnasium, track, athletic field, obstacle course, and firing range, housed in and among Spanish-style buildings, are used for recreational and sports purposes, as well as training.
In the early 1900s, upon meeting minimum requirements, police officers were simply given their badges and assigned to protect the City. Since they received no formal training, they learned while on the job, from other police officers or through trial and error. In 1924, when a program of training for new officers was instituted, there was no regular training facility, and the Department had to use classroom space at an armory in Elysian Park.
In 1925, the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club (LAPRAAC) was formed, and a private organization of sworn members of the Department opened a pistol range in Elysian Park on the site of the present Police Academy. This range was to play a pivotal part in future training for the Los Angeles Police Department. That future began in earnest when, during the 1932 World Games, the Olympic Committee obtained permission to use the range for the pistol and rifle competition. When the games were over, the Department was given the dormitory building. The structure, which had been used at the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills, was dismantled and transported to the Elysian Park site by off-duty officers, and then reassembled for use as a clubhouse. Later it became the basis for the present Academy restaurant and cafe.
In 1935, the Board of Park Commissioners approved the plans of the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club for development of an athletic center that included the construction of a rock garden and waterfalls near the athletic field and shooting range. Francois Scotti, an expert landscape artist, was commissioned to design and build the rock garden, which includes a series of four pools, several cascades, a small amphitheater for band and stage settings, and an outdoor dining area. A large patio, barbecue pit, stairways, walks, and recessed stone seats were also included. The rock garden was subsequently dedicated by the City in 1973 as Cultural Heritage Monument #110. Today it is the most picturesque spot on the Academy grounds.
A variety of recreational facilities are available for use by Department personnel and their dependents, including a tennis court, swimming pool, gymnasium, weight room, sauna, steam room, two racquetball courts, 1/8 mile track, and picnic areas. The Academy Cafe is open to the public. The Police Revolver and Athletic Club store sells guns, athletic gear, and a variety of police equipment.
Since the first recruit class graduated from the Elysian Park facility in 1936 and up until 1995, all sworn members of the Department received their formal training at the Academy. In 1995, the Los Angeles Police Department dedicated the Recruit Training Center in Westchester, a new facility that will eventually phase out recruit training at the Academy. The Academy will then be used for in-service training.
Educational methods and materials have changed enormously, but the basic purpose remains the same: To produce the best-trained police officers possible. Today, Los Angeles police officers undergo one of the most extensive and innovative training programs in the world. Training Division is headed by a Captain and is responsible for the development and presentation of all formalized instruction.
The Los Angeles Police Academy provides a unique blend of training, recreation, and social functions to serve the officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. It is the total atmosphere that contributes to the professionalism of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department.