The past, present and future of Orange County law enforcement converged at the Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center’s 50th anniversary celebration at Golden West College this week.
Police chiefs, command staff, rank-and-file officers and other law enforcement professionals, many who graduated from the Criminal Justice Training Center (CJTC), reunited and reminisced at the May 16 event, which was held in conjunction with the golden anniversary of the college.
“We’re getting to honor the men and women who’ve come before me and celebrate the campus at the same time,” said CJTC coordinator Rick Hicks, former chief of the Placentia and Cypress PDs.
Inside a classroom, Stan Berry, supervising investigator with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, displayed his personal treasure trove of O.C. police memorabilia, a collection that includes historical badges, old uniforms, crime-fighting gear and old police periodicals.
A 15-minute video chronicling the history of the training center and narrated by current police officials who graduated from the academy played continuously on a screen in the same classroom.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” said retired Orange Police Chief Robert Gustafson, who graduated from the CJTC with Class 11 31 years ago. “I can remember it like it was yesterday.”
Orange PD personnel, along with personnel from other agencies, still work at the center as training officers, and several agencies displayed their hardware in the CJTC’s courtyard.
A row of police motorcycles, courtesy of the Tustin and Orange PDs, lined the north end of the courtyard.
Huntington Beach PD displayed its SWAT Bearcat on the east end.
Members of the Tustin, Santa Ana and Orange PDs brought along K9s and mounted units.
Sophisticated helicopters belonging to Anaheim and Huntington Beach were showcased in the south parking lot.
The public could try their hand on the use-of-force simulator, used to train recruits before they go out to the range and shoot live rounds.
“This is community policing in action,” said CJTC Dean Ron Lowenberg, a retired police chief and a graduate of the academy.
As for the future, a 39,000-square-foot facility, the soon-to-be home of the training center, is well under construction adjacent to the current facility.
Along with classrooms, a multi-purpose meeting room and a dispatch lab, the new facility will feature a 5,600-square-foot scenario village, akin to an outdoor movie set, complete with residential and commercial facades, exterior and interior stairways and attic space.
Casandra Palmer, a retired civilian commander with the Los Alamitos Police Department and former coordinator at the training center, was among former employees who reunited with old friends and former colleagues.
“I worked here with some incredible people, and a lot of them are still affiliated with this place,” Palmer said. “A lot of them I haven’t seen for a long time … It’s like coming home.”