In 1991 the Academy was located on Newhope Street in the city of Garden Grove; its location since 1985. My training included 20 weeks (800 instructional hours) in patrol procedures, investigation, state and federal laws, pistol and shotgun (the use of the new computerized Firearms Training System [FATS], physical fitness, arrest & control, defensive tactics, a trip to the morgue, courtroom testimony, and scenario training at the state-of-the-art training center known as Laser Village. The sheriff at the time was Sheriff Brad Gates, and the Academy Commander was Lieutenant Steve Carroll.
The Orange County Training Academy was only one of six “stress academies” left in the State of California at the time. In fact, it was even more difficult than the Los Angeles Police Department who was considered the trend setter at the time. A stress academy is a police academy run like a military Boot Camp is run: a lot of yelling, degrading, tearing down of the recruits, full contact matches among recruits, and a lot of mental stress – in other words, perform well or lose your career.
My class was one of the smallest in numbers in modern history, numbering only 21 men. Normally in each police academy class there were approximately 30 recruits, and usually a few women. Those of us who graduated on June 21, 1991 came from the following agencies: Anaheim Police, Corona Police, Costa Mesa Police (me and Officer Mitchell Johnson), Fullerton Police, Garden Grove Police, Huntington Beach Police, Newport Beach Police, Rancho Santiago Community College, San Clemente Police, Santa Ana Police, and Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Class 104 (class motto: The Smallest but the Mightiest) was taught by 61 different instructors from a wide variety of law enforcement agencies, and our "handlers" were 12 Tactical Officers. Since there was a high ratio of instructors to recruits Class 104 was worked hard that earned us the Esprit de Corps award, which few academy classes in the history of the academy had achieved. In our graduation group photo two of the classmates proudly hold up the plaque.
I was selected by my class 104 peers to be the Class Chaplain, and gave an invocation (the prayer) at the graduation ceremony followed by a benediction given by Monsignor John Sammon.
At the graduation ceremony I was sworn in as a full time paid police officer by Captain Rick Johnson of the Costa Mesa Police Department. Two days later I was out on patrol with my first Field Training Officer (FTO) Corporal Police Officer Phil Myers.
Copyright Jim Wagner 1980 - 2023 All rights reserved.