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Police Academy at a University?

     Who goes to a university for police training?  Police are trained at academies run by police departments aren’t they?  Well, yes. Sometimes.  But there are about seventeen police academies for municipal police officers in Pennsylvania and you might be surprised to learn that the majority of them are located in academic institutions.  Of course you have heard of the Philadelphia Police Academy and there are also academies run by Pittsburgh, Reading, and Allentown Police Departments.  But you might not know that in addition to Temple University, approximately ten other colleges and community colleges are certified by the Municipal Police Education and Training Commission to provide the 750 hours of training that a recruit must successfully complete before he or she becomes a police officer in Pennsylvania.

     “We train recruits for many different kinds of law enforcement agencies,” said Jon Clark, Director of Temples Criminal Justice Training Programs.  Over the years we have trained recruits for many suburban police departments, housing authority police, campus police, park police, Amtrak and Conrail police, school district police, and SEPTA police. And, because in Pennsylvania civilians are allowed to enroll in a certified police academy before being hired, a significant number of persons in each of Temple’s academy classes are civilians who are trying to improve their chances of becoming hired by a department.  “You have to understand, the majority of police departments in Pennsylvania employ six officers or less,” said Clark.  “When a department of that size has an open position they can’t afford to wait for a recruit to go away for five months of training.  They need someone to go out on patrol tomorrow morning.  So many departments look for people who have already completed the training.” 

     If you are thinking that this might be an easy way into a law enforcement job, you might want to think again. The downside is that you have to pay for the training yourself and most people can’t work and go to a police academy at the same time.  “That is something we strongly discourage,” Clark said. “This is not the kind of program that you can do without your full concentration and undivided commitment.  We do background checks, physical and psychological examinations, and interviews with all of our civilian candidates. We are not interested in having a whole lot of people come to our academy.  We only do one class per year and we try to find the best group for that one class. 

     Okay, but what about the real police training like shooting, and driving and physical conditioning and self-defense? “Oh, we do it all just like any other police academy,” said Clark, “Firearms training is conducted off campus at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center Firearms Range in Delaware County, and we do our driver training at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Montgomery County.  Our defensive tactics instruction is second to none and our physical conditioning trainers are among the best in the business."    

     So how would a person get in to an academy like Temple’s?  “Well,” said Clark, “if you haven’t already been hired, first ask yourself how badly you want to be a law enforcement officer and why.  Five months in an academy is a long time and a lot of work with no paycheck coming in.  If you are hired by a police agency before you come to us your tuition will be paid for you and you will be on a salary.  Otherwise, you will be making a serious personal investment of time and energy with no guarantees.  Generally, we find that recruits with some college or military experience tend to adapt to the program easier. If you have thought it through, if you have a clean background, if you are in pretty good physical shape, and you are up to an academic challenge; if you want a career that demands your best efforts and the utmost integrity give us a call.  But you should bear in mind that a police academy’s mission—any police academyis not only to qualify people to be police officers, it is also an entirely legitimate function of police academies to disqualify some people from being police officers. We take our job quite seriously.”

- Jon E. Clark

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For information, please call (267) 468-8605.  Applications are available via this web site or by U.S. mail.

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Contact Criminal Justice Training Programs: TU.CJTP@temple.edu

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 This page was last updated on 2014-01-15 .