Large police departments generally have their own academies. Medium and smaller agencies often use regional police academies where recruits from various agencies train together. When a recruit from a police department is at a regional police academy they are referred to as a “Sponsored Enrollee” as their attendance is sponsored by the police department that they have been hired by. Some regional police departments open up their enrollment to individuals not yet hired by a police department and these attendees are called “Open Enrollees.” Accepting open enrollees is dependent upon space availability in the academy class. It can be very competitive for a spot as an open enrollee in an academy class, going through an application and interview process. Open enrollees go through background checks and pay their own way through the academy. Open enrollees go through the same training as sponsored attendees. When an open enrollee graduates they have their peace officer certification but they are not a sworn peace officer. If they get hired by an agency that accepts their certification they do not have to go through the academy and can be sworn in right away.
So why would someone want to attend a police academy on their own? In this competitive job market agencies are receiving applications from individuals who have already graduated from an accredited law enforcement academy. This saves the hiring department the cost of the academy, the cost of paying the recruit while attending the academy, and the hiring agency does not have to be concerned about whether or not the applicant will pass the academy. Please keep in mind that it only works this way when the hiring agency accepts the applicant’s certification. If the hiring agency has their own academy the benefit of being certified from a regional academy while still beneficial does not carry the same benefits.
Applying for a police officer job with your certification in hand can give you the competitive edge you need. Some departments will advertise openings with the requirement that applicants either already be graduates from a police academy or be currently enrolled, no experience required. Making the decision to attend a police academy on your own is an individual one and all relevant factors should be taken into consideration prior to making the commitment of time and money.