Police Academy II : Sylmar Targeted for New Facility

After whittling 1,900 prospective sites down to one, Los Angeles Police Department officials are pushing to place their new training academy on a 23-acre lot next to Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar.

LAPD officials began searching for an academy site in 1989, after more than 20 years of complaints that the Elysian Park facility--where many of the buildings date from the 1930s--was too small and had become outdated.

In October, an environmental impact report of three locations that had emerged as finalists selected the Olive View site as the best location. “We are training in archaic, overcrowded facilities that are totally inadequate for departmental needs,” said Steve Hatfield, assistant commander of the Los Angeles Police Department’s police facilities construction group.

Plans for the $40-million project call for about 140,000 square feet of buildings. The academy will train 13 classes of recruits each year in groups of 40. LAPD officers stationed in the Valley will do their in-service training at the facility.


Approval Process

An agreement between the city and Los Angeles County, which owns the proposed academy site, would give the city a 66-year lease on the property for $6 million. Funds for the entire project will come from Proposition 2, a $176-million bond measure that city voters approved in April, 1989.

The academy project must still be approved by the Police Commission and City Council. Here is the tentative schedule:

December or January: Police Commission votes on Olive View proposal.


January, 1994: City Council votes on proposal.

December, 1995: Final design finished.

June, 1998: Construction completed.

Site Selection


Police officials singled out the Sylmar site for many reasons. Some highlights:

* It is near another planned police training facility in Granada Hills, where officers will practice using their firearms and driving emergency vehicles.

* Its proximity to Olive View Medical Center will allow the police facility to use the hospital’s helicopter pad, while the hospital can use the academy’s auditorium space. Officers are also assured quick medical attention if they are injured.

* Vehicle traffic in the area is much less congested than at other proposed sites.


* Relative low cost of land.

* Support from some nearby residents.

Proposed Facility

In an effort to accommodate concerns of Sylmar residents, police officials modified the design of the proposed facility. Some examples:


* The LAPD will locate its high-speed driving and firearms training facility at a Department of Water and Power site, near the Golden State and San Diego freeways, because of residents’ concerns about noise and safety.

* The Elysian Park facility will continue to be used for in-service training for most of its officers to cut down on traffic in Sylmar.

* A planned running track was relocated to a canyon on the property so light and noise will not reach residents’ homes.

* The planned entrance to the facility has been moved to allay neighborhood concerns about traffic noise. A landscape berm between an access road and residents’ homes will also be built to further shut out noise.


* The number of parking spaces has been cut from 1,000 to 600.

Source: City of Los Angeles Planning Department, LAPD; Researched by TIMOTHY WILLIAMS / Los Angeles Times