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Academy Type Comparisons

Academy Comparison

There are two types of academies in Arizona.  The ‘accelerated program’ is the format most people think of when discussing a police academy.

Accelerated Program – Designed for those that have been hired full time by an agency.  Usually 18 weeks in length and cadets are paid to attend.

Extended Program – Designed for those that need to attend on a part-time basis.  Designed for people not hired full time yet and allows them to keep their present job while attaining certification.  This is the format at the GCC Law Enforcement Training Academy.

How do the formats compare?

The ACCELERATED PROGRAM is usually 18 to 20 weeks in length.  The EXTENDED PROGRAM at GCC is 10 months in length.

Both programs are required to contain a minimum of 585 hours in length.  The GCC program averages 700 hours.  Most accelerated programs are also over 585 hours.

Both formats are certified by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AzPOST) Board.

Both formats are required to use AzPOST certified instructors.  Approximately 98% of the GCC instructors are teaching or have taught at an accelerated program such as ALEA, located at South Mountain.  For details see - Instructors

Both formats are required to use the AzPOST ‘model’ lesson plans so the course content covers the required performance objectives.

Cadets in the ACCELERATED PROGRAM, since they are hired full time are able to concentrate totally on the Academy for 18 to 20 weeks.  Cadets in the EXTENDED PROGRAM must balance the Academy, full time job and family for 10 months.

Physical conditioning:  The ACCELERATED PROGRAM has the cadet 40 hours a week and can force the cadet to maintain a high level of physical conditioning by having them exercise under supervision during the week.  The EXTENDED PROGRAM meets 2 nights a week and all day on a weekend day.  Weekend mornings (6:00am – 7:00am) cadets participate in physical activities which are actually an evaluation by the staff to see if they are doing physical conditioning on their own.  They must pass AzPOST physical standards BOTH semesters, meaning they have to maintain at least a minimum physical condition over the whole 10 months.  This is the major difference in the two programs.  Cadets in the EXTENDED PROGRAM must exercise on their own to improve their performance.  Those not motivated to maintaining a high level of fitness must rethink their decision to attend the Academy.

Are both types of academies comparable? Both types use the same lesson plans, certified instructors and must meet the same minimum standards set by AzPOST.  All cadets from both types must take a comprehensive exam administered by AzPOST at the end of the Academy.  Scores attained by the cadets are available to hiring agencies.

Is the certification obtained in the two types comparable?  Both have exactly the same certification from AzPOST.  One difference is that the GCC program certifies graduates affiliated with an agency as Limited Authority Peace Officers at the end of the first semester.  This gives the cadets full police powers when working under the direction of a fully certified officer and allows cadets to obtain on-the-job training during the second semester.

Is the certification from the GCC Academy accepted by all Arizona agencies?  Sadly no.  Some agencies apparently feel the 18 week accelerated program and required physical conditioning under supervision is a better test of the cadet’s abilities and send some cadets back through the accelerated program.  However, agencies on the west side of the valley that have had a long association with the Academy know that the performance of the officer is more of who they hire, not where they obtained the basic training to do the job.  Avondale PD, Buckeye PD, El Mirage PD, Glendale PD, Goodyear PD, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Surprise PD, Tolleson PD, Wickenburg PD and Youngtown PD have all hired cadets from the GCC program, and most have officers that instruct in the program.  Many graduates of the GCC program have become chiefs, commanders, lieutenants and sergeants of their agencies.  There are also many GCC cadets in various agencies around the state. 


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This page is solely the responsibility of its creator, Penny Babb
Last updated: October 22, 2013
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