Open with Shawn (James Roday
) and Gus (Dulé Hill
) interrupting one of SBPD's sting operations. As always, the guys are nearly killed, nearly blow the bust but somehow everything works out in the end.
The next day they arrive at the station expecting to be praised. The guys listen to Lassie (Timothy Omundson
) brief that gangster Devry Longsdale is having his cash-checking locations ripped-off. Despite Longsdale's reputation, in this instance he is the victim and the department is on the lookout for a man named David Arnold.
Karen (Kirsten Nelson
) calls them into her office. She and Henry (Corbin Bernsen
) ,tired of their bungling, and want them to spend three weeks at the police academy. The guys immediately think of the comedy films of the same name and love the idea.
Shawn and Gus are introduced to associate academy chief Nick Conforth (Ralph Macchio
). It turns out Conforth and Lassie have an old feud dating back to their academy days and neither let the rivaly go. Lassie rubs it in Conforth's face that he isn't a "real" cop.
We see a montage of Shawn and Gus' training. Suffice it to say they don't perform well in any area. Conforth takes them out for a training patrol with cadet uniforms and fake guns.
Of course, they instantly pullover Lassie for doing 45 in a 40. He's furious, but leaves the scene when word comes over the radio. Another of Longsdale's check-cashing locations is being robbed. After Lassie leaves, the guys manage to talk Conforth into beating Lassie there in order to arrest the bad guy and steal the glory from his old nemesis.
They arrive at the location just as a man fitting Arnold's description runs right in front of the cruiser. Conforth freezes up and can't leave the car. The guys chase Arnold into a nearby college dorm, but lose him in one of the rooms. Lassie arrives just in time to call them all idiots.
Karen suspends Conforth a month for taking Shawn and Gus to a crime scene. Lassie rubs in the fact freezing up is Conforth's reputation. Shawn has lost an alarming amount of his police equipment, including his radio. Shawn and Gus are to return to the academy, now under the watchful eye of Jules (Maggie Lawson
Shawn and Gus speculate about the Top Gun-like similarity of being taught by a female instructor. Lassie calls Jules with news. A car registered to Arnold has been pulled over. Jules brings the guys with her, but keeps them locked in the back of her car.
It turns out the car registered to Arnold is being driven by an elderly Asian woman.
At the station, the guys see Arnold's information in the system -- license plate, phone number, home address - has been doctored and the man does not really exist. Realizing someone had to hack the SBPD database, Shawn thinks back and realizes that one of the kids they saw in the dorm room (a technical school) had been wearing a disguise. Students named Dickie Hollenbrau (Andrew Francis
) and Chris Shepherd are responsible for the robberies.
Shawn and Gus put on their cadet uniforms and had back to the school. The dorm room is empty, but they spot sports gambling slips and evidence. The guys have spent tons of money at a grocery store 20 miles away. The guys duck in the closet as Longsdale himself walks into the room, also looking for the kids. Longsdale says he wants to get his money back and kill the kids. Longsdale leaves and Gus can't figure out how he knew to look for Chris and Dickie.
Jules puts Buzz (Sage Brocklebank
) in charge of the guys next training ride along. They easily trick him into taking them to the grocery Chris and Dickie frequent.
Inside they see the store is a front for a gambling ring. One of the employees tells them Chris and Dickie had owed them $250,000 but recently paid up. They think Chris and Dickie were stealing from Longsdale to pay back their debts. Buzz gets a call. The suspects have been spotted and takes them back to the academy.
Shawn and Gus talk Conforth into once again getting involved. Using the disguise and Conforth's dog, they track the kids to a house. They hear sounds of a struggle and rush in to find Dickie's just been beaten and Chris has been abducted. Longsdale said he'll kill Chris if Dickie doesn't come up with $250,000. They realize Longsdale's been one step ahead of them because he has Shawn's walkie. Dickie pulls a gun on them and leaves to try and help his friend.
At the station, Karen decides to continue Conforth's suspension for another month. Since Shawn and Gus are still managing to out-investigate her officers, she ends the academy experiment and return them to their previous role as consultants.
The guys realize Dickie is probably desperate enough to rob the gambling grocer for the money they just paid back. The arrive there and walk into a gunfight. They jump behind the counter next to Dickie, who has taken the money and is shooting it out with the grocery muscle. At this point, Longsdale walks in with his gun to Chris' head. Shawn's plan is to pit Longsdale against the grocery muscles, using the security cameras to tell the gangsters where they are hiding. Longsdale is the last one standing. Shawn takes Dickie's gun and goes after Longsdale, eventually finding him disarmed and about to be shot by Longsdale. At the last minute Conforth shows up and shoots the gun from Longsdale's hand, saving the day.
Conforth is reinstated at the academy and gets words of praise from Lassie.