The California Highway Patrol is currently seeking new cadets to fill vacancies across the state. The academy has one of the most challenging programs of any law enforcement agency in California. The CHP received more than 22,000 applications in January. Before someone can even make it into the academy, there are a number of written, physical and mental exams that must be passed. CHP officials say, historically, only 2-3% of applicants make it to the list awaiting an invitation to the academy, and less than 2% actually make it all the way through.
Officer Everett Lopez of Orland serves as a staff officer at the academy. Lopez, along with several other officers, gave Action News Now some insight into the just how difficult cadet training really is.
"Coming through this academy was probably one of the most challenging experiences of my life having prior service in the Marine Corps and border patrol," he says.
Once the cadets reach the academy, it only gets harder. They have to make it through 27 weeks of grueling physical training. From handling firearms, to self-defense, DUI courses and emergency vehicle operation. The skid pan, a slick driving course that requires total control of the vehicle, is actually where many cadets have trouble and end up failing.
"We have everyday drivers, meaning they're not specifically taught what we call vehicle dynamics. So there's a lot more to driving than just going from point A to point B," says Lopez.
Let's not forget all of the physical training that goes into it. Roughly 92 hours total is spent solely on getting the cadets in shape and ready for the field. One of the requirements of cadets is to get through the obstacle course in just 37 seconds.
One element that makes the academy stand out is that it's the only live-in training facility for law enforcement in the state. That means the cadets are with each other day in, day out, 5 days a week.
The cadets are reminded every week just how dangerous the job can be. A special ceremony is held where they are required to polish the plaques that hold the names of the 223 officers killed in the line of duty. For cadets like Brandon Banks of Redding, the physical training is not nearly as hard as being away from loved ones.
"When you've got a family at home, a wife and kids, it does make it hard. That's probably been the most challenging for me," he says.
When it all comes down to it the CHP is looking to build both mental and physical toughness in it's potential officers. The current cadet class will graduate on October 30th. If you think you've got what it takes and want to apply to become a CHP officer, you can sign up at chpcareers.com from September 12th through the 14th.