On August 14, 1929, the California Highway Patrol was created through an act of the Legislature. The new law gave Statewide authority to the Highway Patrol to enforce traffic laws on county and State highways - a responsibility which remains in effect today, along with many additional functions undreamed of in 1929.
The primary mission of the California Highway Patrol is "the management and regulation of traffic to achieve safe, lawful, and efficient use of the highway transportation system." As a major statewide law enforcement agency, the secondary mission of the Department is to assist in emergencies exceeding local capabilities. The CHP also provides disaster and lifesaving assistance.
During its first ten years, the Patrol successfully grew into a highly respected, effective traffic safety force of 730 uniformed personnel. After World War II, the legislature decided to consolidate and reorganize the Patrol's enforcement and administrative responsibilities. In October 1947, the Department of the California Highway Patrol was established and the position of commissioner was created to head the new Department.
The span of enforcement responsibility has expanded dramatically and the CHP has continued to grow and change. Today's responsibilities include truck and bus inspections, air operations (both airplanes and helicopters) and vehicle theft investigation and prevention. The 1995 merger with the California State Police also increased the areas of responsibility to include protection of state property and employees, the Governor and other dignitaries.
In addition to its enforcement responsibilities, the Department has taken a leadership role in educating the public concerning driver safety issues. The CHP has received state and national recognition for its innovative public awareness campaigns promoting use of safety belts, a Designated Driver when drinking, securing small children in safety seats and wearing motorcycle and bicycle helmets.
The legislation which created the California Highway Patrol (CHP) on August 14, 1929 also authorized establishment of its own training school; thus the CHP Academy was started in 1930.
The original Academy was located at Mather Field near Sacramento. The first Academy class began on May 26, 1930, consisting of a two-week session for Inspectors and Captains. The first class for Traffic Officers began a few months later on September 16, 1930.
The Academy later moved to the State Fairgrounds in Sacramento under the grandstands. This location presented a rugged endurance and survival test for cadets since the concrete grandstand leaked in rainy weather and it was almost impossible to heat the classroom and dormitory areas.
A shortage of funds in 1938 caused the Academy to be suspended as a full-time training school, and for the next 11 years it operated sporadically for recruit classes only.
The Academy was revived and given permanent status in 1948. The first fixed training facility was established in 1954 at a cost of approximately $600,000 on Meadowview Road in South Sacramento.
This facility encompassed 224 acres and was designed to house 80 resident students. Temporary buildings were added in 1965 to accommodate 360 resident students during the Patrol's expansion in 1966-1968.
It readily became apparent that these temporary buildings would need to be replaced by a larger training facility. On September 17, 1974, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for a new Academy on a 457-acre site in Yolo County.
The present California Highway Patrol Academy is one of the most modern and complete law enforcement training academies in the United States. The Academy will accommodate 280 students in dormitory rooms designed for up to two persons per room. There are four rooms to a cluster, and these rooms share a common restroom.
The dining facility is designed to seat 400 persons. Food is served cafeteria-style, three times daily.
The multipurpose room serves as a gymnasium as well as an auditorium for graduation ceremonies. The gymnasium is complete with a full basketball court, exercise machines, weight training equipment, and a whirlpool bath. Other physical training facilities consist of a quarter-mile running track, a 442-foot long obstacle course, 2.3- and 3.6-mile jogging trails, and a baseball field.
A large water safety tank is used to teach water safety and underwater vehicle extraction rescue training. An underwater viewing room allows students and instructors to observe rescue techniques as they are performed.
A recreation room is available for students' use during their leisure time. This room contains entertainment and recreational equipment, an interactive videodisc training computer, individual video training stations, snack facilities, wide screen television, an automated teller machine and the Recreation Fund Post Exchange (P.X.). The Staff Office is also located in the Recreation Building and is staffed 24 hours a day.
The Academy maintains a full-time video production unit as well as a graphic arts and still photography unit. They create public information booklets, public service announcements, training materials and recruitment literature for distribution to allied agencies and the public at large.
There are seven classrooms designed to accommodate a total of 362 students. Three of the classrooms are tiered, and interlocking walls make it possible to divide the rooms for smaller groups. Each classroom is equipped with a video projector and other standard audiovisual equipment. Additionally, connecting cables are available for computer generated classroom presentations. All audiovisual equipment can be operated by the instructor while standing at the podium.
Academically, cadets are responsible for 42 "learning domains" mandated by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), in addition to agency-specific policies and procedures. During the 27-week program, cadets will receive over 1,100 hours of training.
Cadets must also be certified as Emergency Medical Responders during Academy training. This 48-hour course is administered by the Emergency Medical Services Unit. It has been recognized as a model program and has been credited with the saving of many lives.
The Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) is famous throughout the world as the finest law enforcement driver training program available. The course consists of a 2.3-mile, high-performance driving track, two skid recovery practice areas and a defensive driving course.
Additional riding facilities are provided for the Motorcycle Enforcement Training Course.
The Weapons Training Unit has both an indoor and outdoor range, each equipped with 30 electronically controlled moving targets. The entire area has lighting which can be controlled to simulate different environmental conditions or to allow training during hours of darkness.
The CHP Academy is recognized as one of the finest law enforcement institutions in the world. The primary function of the Academy is to provide basic training for newly appointed CHP cadets. Its secondary function is to provide specialized and in-service refresher training for CHP employees as well as law enforcement agencies from both within and outside the State of California. Courses presented include traffic accident reconstruction, commercial enforcement, emergency medical technician, emergency vehicle operations, tactical riot and general law enforcement training. Other courses include training for departmental operators and clerical staff. Providing the best training available is a trademark of the Academy.