College’s police academy reborn |

College’s police academy reborn

When 37 students report for class Feb. 6 at Yuba College’s Health and Public Safety Center, they will be the first group to take the capstone module of the college’s newly re-accredited police academy.

Upon graduation, they will be qualified to work as full peace officers, something Yuba College has not been able to offer since losing its Police Officer Standards and Training accreditation in 2009, when an audit cited inadequate facilities, test security and oversight.

The college now offers the POST Level 1 Module after building the program up with the Level II and III modules in the last two years. Which means students can get complete training for the first time since the regular basic academy ended in 2009.

“With the Level 1 Module, you can be a police officer anywhere in California, and a lot of other states recognize California certification,” Yuba College Public Safety Director Pete Villarreal said. “It’s a big deal for the college and a big plus for local agencies.”

Villarreal began working at Yuba College as an adjunct instructor in 1989 and watched the program rise, fall and be reborn. He paid close attention as the long, thorough process of reacquiring accreditation inched forward.

“We got too big, too fast and we didn’t have the staff available to make sure we were complying with all the rules and regulations,” Villareal said.

In the years since losing accreditation, the college the built a new Health and Public Safety Center using $20 million from the $190 million Measure J bond, which was approved in 2006, housing Administration of Justice, Fire Technology and EMT programs.

“When we went through our POST inspection, one of the things they noted was the new facility and equipment are exceptional,” Villarreal said. “It’s not just used by the academies and degree students, we also have training for local law enforcement agencies.”

Gradually, the college was able to bring back some of the programs lost, building up its programs in a way that will ensure the debacle of 2009 will not happen again, Villarreal said.

“As we continue adding academies, and we will, we have to make sure we have the infrastructure available to sustain the programs that are there,” he said.

Though the college continued to offer associates degrees in law enforcement and fire technology, people looking to earn the certification required to be police officers and fire fighters had to go out of the area to attend academies.

Before this semester, people pursuing a career as a peace officer had to attend a full-time academy at Butte College, a day-time modular academy at College of the Redwoods, or the fall modular academy at the Sacramento Regional Training Center.

“We’re the only night-time modular academy north of Sacramento, so we service up to the Oregon border, from the Pacific to Nevada,” Villarreal said.

The structure of Yuba College’s academy allows its students to work during the day while attending the academy on nights and weekends.

“I’m excited for the future of Yuba College, excited for the possibility for the public safety department to continue growing,” Villarreal said. “Local individuals can stay within their community and still fulfill their dream of being a police officer, firefighter or EMT.”

Barron is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

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