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A state appeals court has sided with dozens of former Los Angeles Police officers sued by the city for quitting within five years of completing police academy training, ruling that the city’s attempt to recoup the cost of training such officers violates California labor law.

A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal last week overturned an L.A. County Superior Court ruling in favor of the city, according to an opinion published Wednesday and cited by the Los Angeles Times.

The LAPD has required recruits to sign five-year contracts since the mid- 1990s, when it found that some were quitting as soon as the day after graduation to work for other departments that did not pay for training.

The contract required officers to reimburse a prorated portion of the cost of training if they voluntarily left and went to work for another law enforcement agency within one year of quitting. The city has sued dozens of former officers in the years since the policy was enacted, according to The Times.

California requires anyone who wants to become a police officer to undergo state-standardized Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, in essence a professional license to work as an officer. Individuals can be required to pay for their own basic POST training, which is offered by some public safety agencies and community colleges.

Local departments, though, can establish their own standards for training that exceed the minimum state requirements. According to the appeals court opinion, the LAPD academy includes 644 hours of POST training and 420 hours of “department-required” training that addresses issues specific to the city, including crime patterns and trends.

The LAPD’s contracts requiring officers to pay for such training that includes requirements beyond basic POST training if they quit violated state labor laws, the court ruled, according to The Times. The court did not rule on whether the city could in the future charge officers for the cost of the POST training portion of their time in the academy.

—Staff and wire reports

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