To the original questions:
* Both the academy programs you listed are quality at least looking from a county away.
* If you are self sponsoring, go to the one with the shortest commute. You'll need to use all of the time you can when you are away from the academy.
* Departments may prefer grads from certain academies but it is not a significant barrier across the board. Departments will put recruits in different academies depending on timing/availability.
* Being an academy graduate will get you on a shorter stack of applications than being entry level/recruit. But as said above there are applicants with 4year and advanced degrees, military service and/or laterals applying as well. Academy graduate means you are 26 weeks closer to getting in a car and there is no risk of you dropping or getting dropped in the academy compared to a recruit.