The Police Academy Program at the College of the Sequoias Hanford Center started classes just a few months ago with roughly 45 cadets training to become police officers.
These young cadets are being trained by a mixture of officers, sheriffs, sergeants and retirees who have worked in law enforcement for many years in and around the Central Valley.
Chief Jack Amoroso is the COS-Hanford Center STC Coordinator for the Public Safety Training Center, and has a career in law enforcement spanning 36 years.
He retired as Chief of Police for the Avenal Police Department after serving five years there starting in 2010. Before that he served nine years working for the Hanford Police Department and 22 years working for Kings County Sheriff's office.
The Hanford Center offers many different programs, including the police academy, and others like the Adult Core Corrections Academy, Fire Academy and Advanced Officer Training for officers who are already in the field but need to learn new advanced techniques or skills.
The Police Academy has been quite successful, with two programs happening every year. One of the programs starts in August, and the trainees graduate at the end of January. The next one starts in February and ends at the end of July.
Cadets Kyley Horton, 25, and Anthony Chandler, 22, started their training on Aug. 7. They say that this is what they have always wanted to do.
Horton served in the Navy for four years as an Operation Specialist (OS), then decided to come back to become a police officer.
“I've always been interested in law enforcement. I was in the military, so I just want to go back to that and have that structure,” Horton said. “I like knowing what I’m going to do and how to handle certain things.”
The same can be said for Chandler, who said he has always wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps. Chandler graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in law enforcement before making his way to the Academy. His mom works as a detective for the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, while his step-dad is a sergeant at a correction facility.
“My younger siblings want to follow in my footsteps, and I just want to be an example for them,” Chandler said.
According to Amoroso, a big part of the training that goes into becoming a police officer is the writing; Many of the trainees have to be good writers in order to be good police officers.
“You have to write articulately. I’m not talking about a Nobel Prize for literature, but you have to be able to write a basic police report that says, I saw this, did this and took this guy to jail,” Amoroso said. “It will never get to court if it’s not written properly; we fire people with bad reports all the time.”
Amoroso also advises those who want to become police officers go earn a degree before joining the police academy, because they are looking for people who have a higher level of maturity that is not often seen in 18 year olds.
Many of those who have military experience, such as Horton, excel in the Police Academy because of their training.
The police training can be quite rigorous. Many young cadets cannot work while they are in the program. While the cadets can apply for financial aid, which helps cover half of the cost of the program, the total cost is roughly $4,812.
“Usually it’s kind of difficult to get a job under 21, that's why we encourage everybody to get an A.A. degree under their belt,” Amoroso said.
The Academy runs for almost six months and lasts Monday through Friday, with occasional Saturdays.
There are three modules that the cadets have to finish through the six month course; the first module introduces the trainees to the ethics involved in being a police officer and gets into physical training and quick thinking.
“We get new topics every day, the challenge for me is just adapting to the new situations and scenarios every day, because it kind of keeps you on your toes to see how you react to certain things, “Chandler said. “I think that prepares us for when we go out in the field.”
Both Chandler and Horton understand that being a police officer can be quite stressful sometimes, and lately police officers have sometimes gotten a bad rep, but they plan to do their jobs as fairly as they can.
“The way I see it is if you want to see change then you have to be that change,” Horton said. “I’m not joining this because I’m trying to get paid, or because I’m trying to get a better salary, you know. I want to see some change in the world.”