How Police Academies Work

Police Academy Regulations and Oversight

How do the more than 600 police academies dotted around the United States maintain quality? Remember that state governments mandate their own set of police certification requirements, not the federal government. Many do so through Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Councils or comparable groups, which monitor the implementation of the regulations and curriculum in police academies in their respective states.

But that doesn't mean that the federal government doesn't support state and local law enforcement. In 2005, the federal government spent nearly $20 billion on police protection (source: Bureau of Justice Statistics).


The federal government can also lend teaching resources to enhance police training. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga. certifies officers in federal agencies and also offers supplementary training for state and local police departments, particularly those in small towns and rural areas. However, this is not a police academy, since the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and its satellite locations reserve its police-related courses for officers, not recruits. Their courses focus on topics including antiterrorism, drugs and gang violence.

On a national scale, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) can provide additional accreditation for police academies. CALEA was created in 1970 through the joint effort of various law enforcement professional organizations. Its accreditation process examines the academies' management and administration quality to ensure that they meet the high standards in compliance with those set forth by POST councils or their equivalents. Originally, CALEA only accredited police departments but was expanded in 2002 to accrediting law enforcement academies as well.

To find out what happens after you graduate from a police academy, read the next page.