(Note: this academy recently pulled their contract with Blackwater/Xe to use the
training facility. See
for the full story on our 10-month battle to stop that contract. This additional scrutiny of their training facility may be a result as well.)
Kristina Davis, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.
Background: A routine audit found Southwestern College’s police academy might not adhere to testing and teaching requirements.
What’s changing: A state commission is conducting a review to determine the extent of the training shortcomings.
The future: Further classes are suspended pending the outcome.
CHULA VISTA — The police academy at Southwestern College has temporarily suspended future classes after an initial investigation found the school may not be complying with state law enforcement testing and teaching requirements, a state official said yesterday.
The concerns came to light in October, when the
California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training, or POST, launched a routine audit on the academy, said agency spokeswoman Karen Lozito.
The agency, based in
Sacramento, regulates all 39 police academies in the state, ensuring that the testing, teaching and graduation requirements are uniform. Police officers must hold a POST certification before they can work in the state.
“In the initial stage, we found testing and content may not meet POST standards,” Lozito said.
Such findings were “unusual” during routine reviews, she said. Specific details were not available.
The current class of cadets is continuing to train at the Chula Vista college, but new classes, including one that was set to begin Jan. 9, will not be started until the audit is completed, said
Mark Meadows, vice president of academic affairs at Southwestern College. The current class is expected to graduate in the spring.
“We have one in session and everything is still in order,” Meadows said. “We are waiting for the final report.”
Academies are regulated in several areas, including requirements on testing, teaching content, safety, learning environment and staffing. For example, all academies in the state must spend at least 60 hours teaching arrest methods and defensive tactics, four hours on sex crimes, and 12 hours on search and seizure.
The audits are performed every three years, so investigators now have the task of analyzing the past three years of teaching to determine how far back the issues go.
Authorities did not give an estimated completion date, saying the review process is a “lengthy” one. Depending on the severity of the problems uncovered, the academy could be suspended temporarily or, at worst, lose its POST certification altogether.
“We definitely want to work with them to get them up to standards,” Lozito said.
Meadows said the school is cooperating fully with the review to make sure the academy is in full compliance.
The college staff will have an opportunity to appeal the agency’s final report, Lozito said.
Depending on the outcome, the review could theoretically could pose a problem for academy graduates, some who may be working as police officers in the field.
There are two other police academies in
San Diego County: the Palomar College Police Academy in San Marcos and the San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute at Miramar College. The latter is considered to be the official academy where most police departments send their recruits.
Unlike the academy at Miramar, most of the students at Southwestern and Palomar colleges pay their own tuition and hope to get hired by an agency after graduation.
Kristina Davis: (619) 542-4591; firstname.lastname@example.org