Iowa Law Enforcement Academy

History of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy


The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) was created by an act of the Iowa legislature in 1967 with its purpose being to upgrade law enforcement to professional status. The specific goals were to maximize training opportunities for law enforcement officers, to coordinate training and to set standards for the law enforcement services. The Academy establishes minimum standards for Iowa law enforcement and grants officer certification. The Academy has the responsibility to decertify or to suspend officer's certification when necessary.

The Academy provides residential training sessions varying in length from the 15-week basic training schools to one-day specialty and in-service seminars. The Academy can provide housing for 112 persons at any one time. The physical facility consists of dormitory rooms, classrooms, a cafeteria providing meals three times a day, physical fitness center, photography and video production studio, and administrative offices. The Academy is located on Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. ILEA shares firearm ranges and tactical facilities with the Iowa National Guard.

The ILEA, in addition to maximizing training opportunities for all Iowa's peace officers, is responsible for providing basic and in-service training for all county and city jailers and Iowa telecommunication specialists. ILEA also establishes standards and training requirements for the reserve peace officers in Iowa.


More than ten years of work on the part of law enforcement officers across Iowa culminated in 1967 with the passage of what is now Iowa Code chapter 80B. This legislative act, signed into law by Governor Harold Hughes, created the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and Council and required the initial and continued training of all law enforcement officers in this state.

In addition to maximizing training opportunities and upgrading law enforcement to a professional status, the Academy is charged in chapter 80B with the responsibility for setting standards, regulating the law enforcement service, granting law enforcement officer certification to those person successfully completing training, and with decertifying officers in appropriate circumstances. Minimum standards for the appointment of law enforcement officers developed under this authority have been in effect since December 10, 1968.

The academy was originally placed under the Department of Public Safety and functioned there for three years. In 1970 the legislature made the Academy an autonomous department and placed it administratively under the office of the Governor. The Director of the Academy is appointed by and reports directly to the Governor. The Governor appoints members of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Council for four-year terms. 

The Iowa National Guard initially provided accommodations for the Academy's operations. Thereafter, through the cooperation of the Guard, the Governor and the legislature, an Act of Congress provided for the transfer of land on Camp Dodge to the Academy. Public Law 90-444, 90th Congress, S. 3495, passed July 30, 1968, authorized the Secretary of the Army to modify on behalf of the United States the land use restriction under which land had been conveyed to the State of Iowa for military use. The modification allowed up to nine acres that could be used by the State "for law enforcement academy purposes." The Academy continues to enjoy and deeply appreciates an excellent working relationship with the Iowa National Guard and the Adjutant General of the State of Iowa.

Governor Robert D. Ray dedicated the First Academy building in 1969. This building is now the administrative wing of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. The classroom and dormitory building was completed in 1974 and contains a cafeteria, four classrooms, a computer lab/library and a 112-bed dormitory.

Aerial View ILEA

The first basic training school was graduated in July 1968 under the guidance of the founding director of the Academy, the late John F. Callaghan.

The first basic training schools were 160 hours, four weeks in length. In 1972 basic training schools were increased to 240 hours, six weeks. In 1978 the basic training schools were increased to 400 hours, ten weeks. In January 1996 the basic training schools were increased to 480 hours in twelve weeks. Currently the basic training schools are over 625 hours in length lasting sixteen weeks. The Academy normally conducts six basic training schools each fiscal year.

Jail Training

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy is responsible for setting the minimum standards for training of city and county jailers. ILEA offers Jail Basic 40-hour Schools, Jail In-Service 20-hour Schools, Jail Basic 10-Hour Temporary Holding Facility Schools and Jail In-Service 5- Hour Temporary Holding Facility Schools, as well as Jail Medication Management Schools.

Telecommunicator Specialists Training

During the 1996 legislative session the Academy was given the responsibility for providing training to telecommunicator specialists (sometimes known as dispatchers) in the state. A Telecommunicator Training Board was formed under the provisions of Iowa Code section 7E.2(3) to assist in planning, coordination and delivering this training. The number serving on this board was increased in FY 2005 by adding persons from the northwest, southwest, northeast and southeast. This training has been well received. ILEA offers Telecommunicator Basic 40-hour Schools as well as telecommunicator specialty schools.

Reserve Peace Officers

Under the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 80D training for reserve peace officers is provided by the law enforcement agency for which they are appointed (Section 80D.4). The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy has the authority to promulgate minimum standards for members of the reserve force and the responsibility to certify reserve officers to carry weapons before they may do so in their official capacity. Minimum appointment standards were developed in fiscal year 2004 and adopted in administrative rules. A standardized curriculum for reserves culminating in statewide certification was developed in 2007.

Psychological Services

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy provides the following psychological services to law enforcement agencies:

Pre-employment testing (civil service and psychological)

Consultative Services

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy conducts POST cognitive testing and MMPI testing and evaluations for sworn peace officers, civilian jailers, communication specialists, and reserve peace officers. The testing is conducted at ILEA and at local sites when requested.

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy will assist sheriffs' offices and civil service commissions with promotional testing for sworn personnel in sheriffs' offices. This testing can be conducted at the ILEA or at the local agency.

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy will make referrals and provide a list of mental health professionals who are experienced in working with law enforcement officers in handling problems both on and off-duty. This includes exposure to critical incidents, chemical dependency problems, marital difficulties, etc.

The Academy provides information about Fitness for Duty Assessments including specific guidelines for conducting assessments and names of qualified mental health professionals. The Academy participates in critical incident stress debriefings and will provide information upon request about other debriefing teams throughout Iowa.