The Academy was created in 1975 pursuant to the Code of Virginia by joint action of local government entities throughout the Southside, Piedmont and Central Virginia Planning Districts. The purpose of the Academy is to provide entry-level , in-service and specialized training to law enforcement, jailor, courtroom security, civil process and dispatcher personnel employed by member agencies. Since its inception, the Academy has trained more than 15,000 persons in the field of criminal justice.
The Academy was the fourth regional academy to be established in Virginia; there are now ten such facilities. Mr. John A. Erwin, a retired F.B.I. agent, was this Academy’s first director. The original central offices were located in the Memorial Professional Building in Lynchburg with classroom instruction being held at the Central Virginia Community College. Mr. A. Terrell Griffin succeeded Mr. Erwin in 1976, and sites for satellite training were implemented. Presently, these sites are in South Hill, Farmville and South Boston.
In September 1994, after having been housed in several sites in and around Lynchburg, the Academy was relocated to an expanded and more permanent home in the newly renovated Lynchburg City Armory. This new facility, a result of support by Lynchburg’s City Council, has made possible a number of training initiatives, such as the Academy’s state-of-the-art computer lab.
In 1999, a cooperative venture between Longwood College, located in Farmville, and the Academy was inaugurated. This program, the first of its kind in Virginia, allows undergraduate criminal justice majors in their senior year at Longwood to receive a semester’s credit while attending basic law enforcement school. These students simultaneously complete requirements for their bachelor’s degree and certification as law enforcement officers. In 2006, Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, implemented a similar program in cooperation with the Academy.
Mr. Griffin retired in 1999, culminating 22 years of service as Executive Director, and Mr. H. Troy Nicks was appointed to that position until his resignation in December 2000. In March 2001, Mr. Edward F. Sulzbach was appointed as the Executive Director. The current Executive Director, Ronald J. Staton, was appointed in December of 2004.
The Academy now serves the training needs of some 59 agencies having more than 2,000 sworn law enforcement and correctional personnel, including the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Babcock & Wilcox Police Department. Also served are various Emergency Call Centers and their personnel. The Academy’s member agencies serve jurisdictions covering a land area of approximately 7,450 square miles with a total population exceeding 400,000.