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NEW SHERIFF'S ACADEMY IN ANTELOPE VALLEY FIRST CLASS OF CADETS IN NOVEMBER.

Byline: JIM SKEEN Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- Hailing it as a way to bolster recruiting and local law enforcement, officials celebrated on Tuesday the completion of the Sheriff's Training Academy at Antelope Valley College.

College and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials joined together in a ceremony at the academy, composed of two modular buildings on the north end of the campus. The academy will receive its first class of cadets in November.

``(Sheriff) Lee Baca thought this was a community that could deliver a large number of recruits,'' said Chief William McSweeney, head of the Sheriff's Department's training division. ``It's going to brighten the law enforcement picture in this community.''

The academy will handle from 50 to 75 recruits at a time. The recruits will do their class work for the 18-week academy as well as their physical training at AVC.

Recruits will do their weapons training at the department's Pitchess Ranch facility and their driving training in Pomona, sheriff's officials said.

The academy is expected to have four training courses a year at the college site, the department's third training academy. The other academies are in Whittier and Santa Clarita.

Having an academy in their own backyard should help bolster recruiting from northern Los Angeles County, officials said.

``It's wonderful for people who live up here who want to become involved in law enforcement,'' said Capt. John Witt, commander of the Palmdale sheriff's station. ``It eliminates one of their obstacles -- having to travel down below.''

The academy is part of an effort by the Sheriff's Department to address a manpower shortage of 1,000 deputies. At the Lancaster station, there are 28 vacancies while at the Palmdale station, there are 26.

At one point, the Palmdale station was down 47 deputies, Witt said.

``We are making a significant dent,'' Witt said.

Capt. Carl Deeley, commander of the Lancaster station, said the academy will not only help recruit from northern Los Angeles County, but will also be attractive to southern Kern County residents who might not want to drive to Santa Clarita or Whittier for training.

AVC President Jackie Fisher said the academy will complement the college's existing associate degree program in administration of justice. That program will help attract recruits for the academy.

District Attorney Steve Cooley called the academy the fourth jewel in the region's law enforcement crown, joining the brand new sheriff's station in Palmdale and the relatively recent Lancaster sheriff's station and the Antelope Valley Courthouse.

``It's going to allow the Sheriff's Department to better fulfill its mission to not only protect the citizens of the Antelope Valley but all of L.A. County,'' Cooley said.

The academy, estimated to cost about $500,000, is a joint project among the college, the Sheriff's Department, and the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

james.skeen(at)dailynews

(661) 267-5743

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1) Cadets of the North Sheriff Training Academy's Class 351 from College of the Canyons in Valencia hold steady as the wind blows through while they perform their drills. Invited guests and officials attended the opening of the new academy training center on the Antelope Valley College campus Tuesday.

(2 -- 3) Marching in sync, above, cadets from College of the Canyons in Valencia perform their drills to start off the morning ceremony. At right, cadets raise the flag during the opening of the new academy training center on the Antelope Valley College campus.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 11, 2006
Words:573
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