2017 Top 25
City of Los Angeles, CA
January 1, 2017

The Police Orientation Preparation Program (POPP) is an unprecedented and successful public-private partnership between the police department, the school district, community college, and a private donor that helps participants earn an associate degree while transitioning from high school into volunteer reserve police officers, and finally full-time police officers. The POPP is designed to combine the best of pre-academy recruit training programs (such as Cadets and Explorers) with the career and personal values of a secondary education. Additionally, the program was expressly designed to be housed within an active police training facility, allowing students to work directly with instructional officers who mentor students on an individual level, helping them prepare for the application process and avoid behaviors that can disqualify them later in the police hiring process. With the goal of recruiting students of the highest standards and to further improve hiring outcomes, the entrance standards for POPP were strengthened in 2015. Additionally, the POPP model was adapted to focus on community policing while implementing the concepts identified by the Federal Task Force on 21st Century Policing. These concepts include an increased focus on diversity, developing trust and legitimacy with communities, and building partnerships with education. To meet the challenge of providing consistent funding, POPP partner programs leverage resources by sharing the expense of the program. The Los Angeles Police Department provides logistics and staff officer salaries while West Los Angeles College provides for all professors. Additionally, the Los Angeles Unified School District funds an onsite administrator. Through the ongoing financial support from the Weintraub Foundation, POPP is able to absorb the expense of textbooks, supplies, and tutoring services. The POPP excels because each organization works together to monitor individual student progress and help them develop and utilize their skills to achieve their goals.