In April 1936, the California State Peace Officer Association held meetings on how to better educate state peace officers. In December of that year, Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz formed the Sheriff’s Institute of Technical Training. It took almost a year before classes began, and then they were not classes on law enforcement techniques and methods, but classes taught by UCLA professors on how to teach. In February 1938, after the new instructors were ready to teach, a ten section curriculum was developed which was subdivided into specific areas. The training of recruits was not begun until 1940.
By July 1958, Captain H.B. Cramer of the Training and Emergency Services Bureau noted that his personnel were conducting training in a range of areas. Recruit Academy was now 8 weeks long. There was a 40 hour sergeant supervisory school and a roll call training program designed to be conducted at the station level. There was an 8 hour narcotics seminar and ongoing training for reserves. Other courses included an 80 hour Special Enforcement Detail School, a Special Weapons School, a 40 hour Civil Bailiff’s School, and a similar school for County Marshals, a 16 hour Traffic Law Enforcement School, and a 120 hour Traffic Law Enforcement and Accident Investigation School. There was also a 4 hour course in how to roll fingerprints and a telephone training school for both civilian and sworn personnel.
In 1959, the California State Legislature created the Commission on Peace Officer’s Standards and Training. Newly elected Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess wanted our personnel to be the best trained in the country. So he began a process to take department training to a new level. To accomplish this he brought in Lieutenant Howard Earl. Earl had an education background and brought in a staff of respected instructors including Sergeants David Dock Parnell and Frank Waldren and Deputies James White, Gaylord Campbell, Gil McMullen, Bill Bacon, Horton Steele, Bill Hammer, Gordy Greybehl, John Knox, Jim Grant, Jim Starkey, Richard McGrath and Tom Degraw. All of these personnel became department leaders. They greatly improved the recruit training curriculum and doubled the course of instruction to 16 weeks.
Lieutenant Earl also realized that, in addition to enhanced training, the Training Bureau needed a logo to signify the Academy’s purpose. He assigned Sergeant Parnell to design a logo that would graphically display the Academy’s mission. Parnell wanted the logo to stand out and look unique so he chose a diamond shape. Lieutenant Earl felt the Academy’s purpose was to instill knowledge so deputies could provide justice. This led to the inscription “Justice Through Knowledge.” The Roman Sword symbolized the power to overcome the criminal element. The sword was placed in the center of the logo in the middle of the Scales of Justice. This symbolized that protection and justice worked together. The tip of the sword is directed at a six pointed star representing the Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Pitchess also wanted the Training Bureau staff to look like an elite unit. To that end he ordered staff instructors to develop additions to their uniforms that would give them a unique look distinctive from the custody deputies assigned to nearby Biscailuz Center Jail. The first approved uniform accessory was pips added to the uniform epilates. Deputy Bacon, assisted by his wife’s sewing skills, designed this two inch wide white stripe with gold borders along each side that were the original pips. Other accessories that were approved by the Sheriff for special occasions were white belts, white leggings and bayonets. The only item not approved was a swagger stick.
The proud history of law enforcement education on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department stretches back almost 80 years. The men and women of the Training Bureau have a proud heritage and legacy. Their goal from the beginning has always been to prepare their students to better serve the citizens of Los Angeles County.
A Moment in History
The Los Angeles Sheriffs’ Museum