Sauk Valley welcomes new police academy at SVCC


Sauk Cadets practice standing at attention. A cadet must stand at attention whenever anyone higher in rank is present.

  In June of 2022, it was announced that Sauk Valley Community College will be hosting a police academy. The academy is a 14 week course that can host up to 45 cadets at a time; it includes physical training, classroom training, and field training. 

  Illinois has seven total police academies, including the newest one at Sauk. S.V.C.C. ‘s academy is the first of its kind in the northwest region, and cuts down training trips significantly for officers who reside in the northwest area. 

  Sterling High School security officer Greg King said, “(The Police Academy) is great. Because of the proximity, more people may be interested in joining the police force.”

  For S.H.S. students interested in going into criminal justice, you can always take the dual enrollment criminal justice classes at Sauk, but having a brand new police academy may be a new stepping stone for those who graduate. It’s not only close to Sterling, but also has a very experienced director. 

  Jason LaMendola is the director of the new academy. LaMendola is a 25-year veteran of the Dixon police force, a former SWAT team leader, a training officer, and even being trained in terrorism event response. 

  School Resource Officer Travis Nease shared, “Most departments will pay for your academy training. You must be at least 21 by the time you finish the academy, but seniors who are 18 have the opportunity to attend criminal justice classes at Sauk, ride alongs, and even join the police explorers group.”

  Having the academy will provide current officers with additional training as well. For example, the new academy will include an interactive shooting simulator that will help officers determine how to deescalate situations and when to use force. 

  Sterling Police Chief Alex Chavira is very excited about the new academy. Regarding the training, Chavira said, “Sauk just started their inaugural class on January 9th. I believe their focus at this time is to get the academy classes running smoothly and eventually, add specialty training. Once they do, it is my intention to send our officers to Sauk for this advanced training.” 

  Students who are interested in going to the new academy must wait until their 21st birthday to be eligible, but regardless of the age requirement, having the new academy so close to the Sterling area is a great opportunity.