Mens sana in corpore sano – “A sound mind in a sound body”
The University of Texas System Police Academy was created by unanimous vote of the U.T. System Board of Regents on December 8, 1967. The first training class of peace officers graduated in 1968. The academy is licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and has completed nearly 100 basic training schools for peace officers since 1968 graduating more than 2,000 police cadets.
Both basic and in-service training services are provided to our 14 police departments across the U.T. System by the academy. Training is managed and coordinated with TCOLE through the Office of Director of Police. Training classes can be open to law enforcement agencies across the state, or available to U.T. System Police only, dependent on the topics of instruction. Training directly sponsored by the academy meets or exceeds TCOLE requirements and is reported as continuing education credit.
As of Basic Police Officer Certification class number 94, beginning in January 2013, both the University of Phoenix and Tarleton State University have indicated that if police cadets otherwise met their institutions’ respective enrollment requirements then 30 hours of college credit would be awarded for successful completion of the Basic Peace Officer Certification course.
Cadets from a number of other law enforcement agencies in the State of Texas have attended Basic Training Schools at the academy:
- Baylor University
- Baylor Health Care System
- Capitol Police - DPS
- Huston-Tillotson College
- Kyle, Texas Police Department
- Office of the Texas Attorney Genera
- St. Edwards University
- San Marcos, Texas Police Department
- Southern Methodist University
- Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife
- Texas Forest Service
- Texas State University
- Texas Tech University
Basic Training in the academy includes both classroom education and skills acquisition. Cadets are required to demonstrate proficiency in all areas of instruction to successfully complete the academy. Following graduation from the academy, cadets must then pass the State Peace Officer Licensing Exam, administered by TCOLE, to be a licensed in the State of Texas. As of 2015 and class number 96, the last eleven cadet classes have maintained a 100% pass rate on first attempt on the exam.
To be a Peace Officer in the State of Texas, persons must have both a license from TCOLE and a commission from an authorized agency. Director of Police Michael J. Heidingsfield commissions Peace Officers of the University of Texas System and is the exclusive authority for doing so. The authority is vested in the U.T. System Board of Regents by Article 51.203, Texas Education Code. U.T. System Police Officers have primary law enforcement jurisdiction in all counties of the State where U.T. property is located (currently 67 counties). They are vested with all the powers, privileges and immunities of state peace officers and may enforce all traffic laws on streets and highways. UT System Police Officers also have general law enforcement authority in the remaining 187 countines in the state.
Applicants for police officer are generally recruited by one of our 14 institution police departments. In some cases these applicants already possess a Peace Officer License from TCOLE. These applicants can bypass the Basic Training School requirements and attend lateral police officer training provided by the academy. The Lateral Police Officer School is four weeks in length and is intended to be an immersion process for officers coming to university law enforcement from other agencies.
Classes and training are conducted in a traditional paramilitary fashion with many traditional military protocols observed and an accompanying requirement that cadets not only participate successfully in the learning process but have both class and grounds’ responsibilities. Cadet and lateral officer candidate uniforms are prescribed as they are for staff, guest instructors and in service trainees. The entire facility and grounds are tobacco product-free. The academy facility is heralded as “Rafftown” in recognition of the service and contributions of retired Police Inspector Dan Raff. Similarly, the firearms range is dedicated to former Director Frank Cornwall.
The academy is located on the Bee Cave Research Center in Western Travis County approximately three miles West of West Lake Hills, a suburb of Austin, Texas at 506 Crystal Creek Drive. The site was formerly a Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missile base constructed in the late 1950s to protect the Capital of Texas. Visit this link for a video outlining the history of the Nike-Hercules missile. The site was decommissioned in the mid 1960s and the land was given to The University of Texas. GPS: 30.314168,-97.863861. The facility is an austere and purposely geographically isolated setting to facilitate a focus on learning and training without distraction. This is not a residential academy but instead relies on pre-identified commercial lodging in the Greater Austin Area for housing for cadets and lateral officer candidates. It is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Austin and the Office of the Director of Police (ODOP) headquarters for the UT System Police.
- Classroom and office building
- Firearms cleaning/repair/maintenance area
- Breakroom and cadet study hall/computer lab
- Library (take and pass on)
- Physical training facility and showers
- Firearms range for handguns and long rifles
- Physical agility testing course
- Jogging course/hill climbing
- Obstacle course
- Bus platform for tubular assault/hostage rescue training
- Parking: reserved for staff and guests, first come first served for cadets and trainees
The academy and all associated training functions are overseen by a trio of Police Inspectors including the Academy Commander, Training Coordinator and Chief Instructor/Cadet Counselor. The training staff reports through the ODOP Chief of Staff to the Assistant Director. The training staff enjoys administrative support from the downtown headquarters office of ODOP.
The University of Texas System Police Academy Advisory Board, composed of both law enforcement and public members, meets at least annually to provide advise and counsel to the Director of Police and Police Academy Commander.
Academy Advisory Board Members
Chief Steve Barrera ~ Chairman
Mr. John Soule
Chief Tom Engells
Mr. John D. Hall
Chief Larry Zacharias
Mr. Jeffrey Reuter
Chief Robert Cromley
Ms. Tamra English
Mr. Ralph Wayne
Mr. John Kahn
Procedure For Qualifying Applicants For Employment As Peace Officers
See: ODOP Policy 401
See also: Job Disqualifiers
Please send comments about this page to Erica Wagner.
Last revised 1/29/2016