It all started in Bradenton in 1939, when the Florida Highway Patrol held its first patrol school. With the assistance of the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Florida Highway Patrol Academy graduated 32 recruits who were ready to take on the challenge of enforcing traffic laws and promoting traffic safety across the state.
In the early days of the patrol, academy training was conducted wherever space was available, including Bradenton, Kissimmee, Panama City and Fort Walton Beach. The FHP used whatever resources and facilities were available to make sure the academy produced the best troopers possible.
A large portion of the early academy classes were held at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton. Eventually, the academy classes were moved to the decommissioned Dale Mabry Field in Tallahassee, and the FHP used old Air Force buildings to conduct training.
In 1966, the FHP found a more permanent home in Tallahassee at a brand new facility, complete with a gymnasium, classrooms, cafeteria, dormitories and an indoor firing range.
For nearly 40 years, FHP recruits trained at the “old academy” at 2908 Ridgeway Street in Tallahassee. Over time, though, it became clear that new training requirements would require a new facility and a new home.
In December 2005, the members of the 111th recruit class helped move furniture and equipment from the academy building in Tallahassee to its current home at the Florida Public Safety Institute. They became the first class to graduate from the “new academy.”
The FHP Academy at the FPSI is a state-of-the-art facility that includes a mock courtroom, mock dispatch center, driving track, dedicated defensive tactics building and firing range. Academy staff continues to explore ways to use the facility to its fullest potential and to use the latest technology to deliver the best training possible to Florida’s future troopers.
Regardless of where the academy is located, the FHP tradition lives on. The FHP continues to play an integral role in shaping the troopers of today and building the leaders of tomorrow.
The academy remains the central, unifying point for troopers across the state and across the ages. It is the tie that binds, and every trooper who wears the uniform today was first an academy recruit. The academy holds a special place in every trooper’s heart. It is the stepping off point to a new and rewarding career and a place where lifelong friendships form, recruits are built up and troopers are made.