Looking to pass on critical counter-terrorism training to law enforcement agencies at the local and state level, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has begun its National Counter-Terrorism Academy.

LAPD Chief William Bratton announced at the department’s Ahmanson Recruit Training Center in Westchester Monday, March 10th, that LAPD has begun implementing a pilot program for what is considered to be the first National Counter-Terrorism Academy created by local law enforcement and its private partners.

The pilot program, which will run through the end of July, is expected to bring world-class counter-terrorism training to nearly 70 members of 30 agencies throughout California and Nevada, including the Los Angeles Fire Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bratton said.

A partnership between the LAPD and the Manhattan Institute think tank, the academy will offer classes on homegrown radicalization, methods for interdicting terrorism finance and case studies of terrorism plots, the chief said.

“Police officers are out in the communities every day, gathering critical information and fighting crime,” Bratton said. “With the proper training, we can apply the skills we already have to the fight against terrorism as well.

“This academy will offer standardized counter-terrorism training that teaches us how to apply the crime-fighting and information-gathering strengths we already have to the issue of terrorism.”

Los Angeles officials say the academy is essential, as the city was the target of a terror plot in 2000 and continues to remain a target. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, state and local law enforcement professionals around the country stand to play a role as “first preventers” of a potential terrorist attack, city officials said.

But until the implementation of the academy, there has not been a training academy where local law enforcement officers could receive basic homeland security education based on a curriculum that is specifically tailored to their needs, officials said.

“Although protecting Americans from acts of terror is the principal responsibility of the federal government, we know painfully well that it is the first responders who are on the front lines,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “The National Counter-Terrorism Academy will become a cutting-edge training facility where officers will receive basic homeland security education based on curriculum specifically tailored to their needs.

“There is no better place than Los Angeles to serve as the hub of the wheel in this effort.”

The pilot program was funded primarily by the Ahmanson Foundation, along with state funding.

The academy will provide courses that teach how to understand a threat and determine its origination, how to counter that threat and how to develop an intelligence-lead policing plan for the threat, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing said.

The LAPD plans to seek additional funding for the academy and expand the course offerings over the next year.