Huntington Beach

Nation’s “best” police school opens

THE GOLDEN WEST COLLEGE Police Academy Recruit Class of 157 Color Guard. (Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC)

By Lou Ponsi

Law enforcement professionals, public officials, business leaders, and notable people from the education community recently got their first look at the new Criminal Justice Training Center  at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

But before touring the $25-million, 39,000-square-foot facility, they gathered in the center’s community room and listened to speaker after speaker discuss the ever-increasing demands placed on today’s police officers – social issues such as homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction, added public scrutiny, and high-powered weapons in the hands of criminals.

“Every day, every time a cop picks up a paper or watches the news, she learns about something else she will have to know about probably before her next shift,” the Hon. Associate Justice William W. Bedsworth, Fourth District Court of Appeal, said in his speech. “The amount of education and reeducation our police must assimilate every day is staggering.”

Manny Alvarez, director of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), said to the crowd of about 500: “Law enforcement throughout the nation including, this great city, are challenged more and more every day. Responsibilities for contemporary law enforcement professionals have increased exponentially compared to even a few decades ago, and increased training is needed to meet those demands.”

The new facility is equipped to meet those demands.

The April 10 grand opening included tours of the state-of-the-art “smart” classrooms, exercise facilities, and the Scenario Village, a configuration of structures that replicates those officers may come across on the streets. They include a storefront, a residence, and an industrial building.

They saw the Pull-Over Street, which will be used for pull-over instruction, which surrounds the Scenario Village and runs into a cul-de-sac, where vehicles can turn around and head back to the Scenario Village.

The training center has been a longtime dream of Ron Lowenberg, dean of the Criminal Justice Training Center, who is a former Huntington Beach police chief and law enforcement professional for 36 years.

“The real meat of the day for me is for us to share with you what an outstanding facility this is,” Lowenberg said. “We knew we had the best curriculum. We knew we had the best faculty. We still have the best curriculum. We still have the best faculty. But now we have the best building.”

The first college-based academy to be certified by POST, the CJTC offers a 24-week Regular Basic Course, 17-week Special Investigators Basic Course, Continuing Professional Training courses, and also houses a Leadership and Ethics Institute.

Training also includes instilling the Six Pillars of Character into the heart of every recruit who passes through.

Those include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

“My commendations to this wonderful institution,” said Michael Josephson, a renowned leader in ethics education and founder of the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics. “This is the finest facility of its kind in the country. It’s going to continue to do so and I’m very proud to be working with it.”

The center represents a major upgrade from the facility it replaces, which served as the CJTC for nearly 50 years but no longer could meet the training demands for today’s law enforcement professionals.

The CJTC began in 1955 with a five-week course in the city of Orange before moving to the Orange County Fairgrounds in 1960. In 1969, the CJTC relocated to Golden West College.

Hundreds of CJTC graduates have advanced to command-staff positions and nearly 40 have served in top management positions, and three Orange County police chiefs are CJTC graduates.

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