The training function has been routinely relegated to a secondary
role in many police agencies. The
daily press of more urgent matters tends to gobble resources and squander
hours until very little of anything is left to fulfill the need for
training and human resource development.
Of course, police officers are employed to protect lives and
property, not to sit in class—both the public and government officials
(and therefore the Chief or Sheriff) see more cops on the street as the
answer to society's security problems.
When push comes to shove, resources have to be allocated to covering
patrol shifts and doing follow-up investigations, because police are
expected to prevent and/or solve as much crime as possible in order to keep
society and its citizens safe.
Historically, this has been the public's primary expectation
regarding their police agencies, and, by and large, law enforcement officers
have risen to the challenge. But
those expectations are changing, and professional law enforcement has to
begin changing as well.
The Costs of Crisis
While we may be holding the line on crime (an issue which many would
choose to debate), we are losing the battle of the budget.
We are spending huge amounts of both money and goodwill as a result
of incidents involving alleged excessive force, improper motor vehicle
operation and false arrest. It
has been estimated that forty cents of every liability dollar paid out by
communities goes to cover jury awards, settlements and legal fees related to
police claims. Forty percent! And these are only the direct, liability related costs.
How does one calculate the value of eroded public confidence in law
enforcement? When we make a big
splash in the media through some inappropriate act or ill-conceived policy,
the ripples are felt for years. Over
time, reduced public confidence in and respect for the law enforcement
profession leads to tighter budgets, reductions in resources, and unemployed
Chiefs and Sheriffs. Our
partnership with the community breaks down, and the crooks very ably take
advantage of a bad situation.
Perhaps most importantly, our police officers and deputies suffer. They are subjected to ridicule and suspicion on the street,
and in the press. This negative
environment cannot help but have a significant impact on morale, and
therefore performance. Over
time, increased job-related stress can lead to serious chronic health
problems, excessive sick leave, and early retirements, thus robbing us of
our most experienced people.
Officers are frequently injured in motor vehicle and use of force
compensation insurers report that the most common situation leading to
officer injury is a resisted arrest. Additionally,
many officers are injured annually as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
So, what can we do about it? We
can start fighting the right battle. We
can recognize that well trained, disciplined officers will cost us less in
the long run than partially trained, directionless ones. We can realign our
priorities, with training at the very top of the list.
We must get ahead of the curve, and reduce our tendency to think
reactively. We must be
strategic thinkers rather than crisis managers.
The answer lies in strategic management of the training process and
the pragmatic application of a training plan.
department outlines its approach to training management, five key aspects
should be included:
These key program aspects, and all of their incorporated elements,
interact to form a training management system that will allow a Chief or
Sheriff to think strategically while allocating resources to training.
- Delegate, Don't Dictate
One reason that police managers frequently find themselves shifting
into "crisis management mode" is their tendency to try to do too
much. The majority of police
agencies in the United States have fewer than fifteen officers.
In this environment, the Chief spends a great deal of time patrolling
and answering calls, as well as managing daily business.
There simply isn't time to devote to research and development of a
Responsibility for the training program should be delegated to a
designated training officer. With
the limited opportunities for advancement in a small agency, most
departments have at least one officer interested in assuming these duties.
Ideally, the training assignment would be a full time job, but this
will not normally be possible. Generally,
the training officer will continue to perform other routine duties.
Another problem that frequently manifests itself where training is
concerned is resistance from the ranks.
Even the best training program can falter if officers are
disinterested or hostile. One
useful method for dealing with this possibility is the formation of a
training committee, charged with the responsibility for development of new
training ideas and plans. Union
representatives and supervisory personnel should be invited to join this
committee, as support from these individuals can greatly enhance acceptance
of the training program. The
rank and file of the department will feel some ownership of the training
Information - From Here to There
When getting directions to any destination, you have to know where
you are to begin with. Many
departments attempt to make decisions regarding training with little or no
There are at least three critical types of information that the
police manager needs in order to plan for the best utilization of training
Any existing training
Officer injury and
liability loss data
- The first order of business for any department is to gather all existing
training records. While some
agencies have kept good records, many have not.
Officers should be queried regarding any training records they have
that the department does not have. Ideally,
a computer database should be constructed, using a relational database
program. This will enable the
easiest and most efficient management of the information once it is
Remember to collect information on all of each officer’s training.
Include any training that he or she completed before they joined your
specialized training, such as instructor certifications and
supervisory/management training. Consider
expanding your training records to include college degrees and other
- In order for training to be truly useful to both the individual officer
and to the department, it must be job-related and relevant.
An informal review of past incidents will reveal elements of daily
operations that have a high potential for officer injury and/or civil
liability. These areas should
receive a proportionate amount of training resources.
Generally, the three areas where police agencies suffer the greatest
number of and most costly losses are use of force, operation of motor
vehicles, and false arrest.
Remember to track those incidents that don’t result in a loss; i.e.
successful pursuits, arrests completed without injury, etc.
While these incidents didn’t lead to injuries or lawsuits, they do
indicate activity levels, and such information is critically important to
any department’s risk management effort.
- Because so many agencies are located some distance from training
facilities, the police manager must review course offerings several months
in advance. This will enable the selection of less costly or more
geographically suitable options when selecting training sessions.
When a department fails to anticipate its training needs, it is
likely to spend more than necessary in travel and accommodation expense, as
well as overtime.
In-house training is frequently the most cost-effective strategy for
courses that must be taken by all officers on a regular basis, such as
defensive tactics or precision driving. This type of training usually
requires instructor training and recertification, however, and instructor
courses tend to be longer and more infrequently offered.
Advance planning is a must when securing instructor training.
Policy Development - Setting Standards
A department's training policy is arguably the most important
document in its policy manual. It
is through the functional implementation of the training policy that all
other aspects of the department's critical operations are controlled.
While each department's policy will differ, there are three essential
elements that should be incorporated into all training policies:
- The training policy should begin with a statement of the department's
position on such issues as professionalism through training, career
development and personal growth. This
philosophy statement will form the rational basis for the entire program, so
it should be thoughtfully developed and carefully written.
- In the process of administering the program, the police manager will
encounter situations where fair and equitable standards are needed. These
standards can be developed for such areas as instructor selection, pass/fail
criteria, remedial training, FTO program completion, recertification in
skill areas, and many others.
The training policy should delineate the process by which these
various standards will be developed and maintained.
- The training policy will serve as "enabling legislation" for the
daily operation of the training program.
Such issues as mandatory class attendance, disciplinary procedures
and instructor authority should be addressed.
The Plan - Thinking Strategically
The written training plan serves as the program's roadmap, guiding
the police manager's allocation of resources toward realization of the
department's goals. Everything that we have discussed so far has been geared
to one objective
the functional implementation of this written plan.
Development of the plan should begin with the formulation of specific
objectives. The police manager
will identify the areas of training deemed essential and consistent with the
long term goal of safe enhancement of effectiveness.
Once these objectives are defined, training needs should be
prioritized. Many factors
impact on the priority order of training, and many other training needs will
be perceived at this point. The
police manager should make every effort to remain focused on the established
objectives, especially if resources are scarce.
Lastly, the plan should include a timetable for implementation.
The overwhelming shortage of training in many departments (due to
department size, limited budgets, or poor training history) indicates a need
to plan strategically over a three to five year period.
In this manner, portions of the workforce can be platooned annually,
lessening the financial burden somewhat.
A final note on planning. Once
the plan is developed and implemented, it's likely that situations will
arise that necessitate occasional deviations.
These should be resisted if possible, and documented when they must
occur. An attachment to the
plan (in memo form) should indicate the reason for the deviation.
In this way, the integrity of the plan can be maintained, and its
usefulness as evidence of good faith retained.
Maintenance - Avoiding "GIGO"
Ongoing maintenance of the training program should focus on three
central activities: evaluation of classes attended, documentation of
training attended, and the periodic adjustment or revision of the training
- Because officers attend classes at different locations, it's not possible
for the training officer or police manager to personally attend each session
for the purpose of evaluating training content, appropriateness or scope.
The department should utilize an evaluation form, to be completed by
class attendees and returned to the training officer. This will give officers an opportunity to make their feelings
known to the department's administration, and will provide a means of
checking on the thoroughness and appropriateness of both program content and
style. One method of
implementation that many departments use successfully is to provide a
combination notice of training assignment and evaluation form.
- Once the department's training database is constructed, it should be
maintained in as complete and timely a manner as possible.
The database should at least include the following:
- Any long-range plan will have to be modified from time to time, based on
pressing demands or on new concerns (e.g. the recent push for domestic
violence training). As time
passes, it will be tempting to deviate farther from the original course laid
out in the plan.
It is vitally important that deviations from the original plan be
valid, job related, and relevant¾and that they be documented.
Without this control, the usefulness of the training plan as a
management tool and as an evidentiary document becomes highly questionable.
While no plan can be cast in stone, all members of the department
should understand the necessity for careful planning accompanied by a
commitment to avoid deviation.
Of course, any revisions made should be reviewed by the
department’s training committee, and by senior management.
Having come full circle in our systems approach to training
management, it's time to make a commitment.
If we are truly serious about improving the relationship between
ourselves and the communities that we serve, and if we really do want to
enhance professionalism, then we must act now.
We have an absolute obligation to make every reasonable effort to
reduce the number of officer and citizen injuries that result from our
activities. As police managers
and trainers, the responsibility to think strategically so as to best
utilize limited resources falls to no one else.
We can't "make" officers be safe and less liability prone,
they must decide to do that on their own.
We can, however, manage our training resources and efforts in such a
way as to provide them with the information they need, in a positive,
reinforcing manner. Most
officers will respond favorably to such training, and will identify the
personal benefit to be gained by professional application of training
information. Those who do not
can be dealt with through the agency's normal disciplinary process, with
less strife and frustration—due
to labor's participation in the management of the training process.
Although implementing a well-rounded training management system from
scratch can be time consuming, the initial work is well worth the effort, as
ongoing maintenance of the program will be much simpler.
When a training management program has been fully implemented, many
other administrative tasks are more easily handled, with corresponding
savings in time and resources.
Today's police managers and trainers are charged with tremendous
responsibility. The safety of
society and the financial and professional wellbeing of officers and other
employees can be a heavy burden, especially when viewed from the perspective
of daily crisis management.
managers and trainers that are able to think strategically can lighten their
load and, at the same time, create a smoother running, safer, more efficient
department, with less liability exposure, increased community support, and
enhanced officer morale.
This policy establishes guidelines, but
not limitations for in-service training of the department employees.
Employees are continually afforded opportunities to learn, develop and
become educated. This is accomplished, in part, by reviewing and discussing
the rules, policies, procedures, philosophy, practices of the department and
current case law applicable to their performance as employees. The purpose
is to assist employees in performing their essential job functions. As an
example, employees may be provided briefings, videos, periodicals,
magazines, bulletins, newsletters, books or lectures.
Training may also include discussion of current events, incident
debriefing and public policy issues and performing mechanical and motor
skills important to the job.
Employees of the department will attend training as assigned by
(Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his designee.
Employees are encouraged to make requests to the (Chief, Director,
Sheriff) or his designee to attend training that is offered by the various
Training other then core requirements may be assigned by the (Chief,
Director, Sheriff) or his designee
Employees are required to notify the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or
his designee should they be unable to attend training due to a subpoena or
Employees who are absent from assigned training shall immediately
notify the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his designee, of the reason for the
absence. Employees that are
absent without approval are subject to disciplinary action.
When possible, employees that are absent from training shall be
scheduled for makeup training as soon as possible.
Employees who fail to pass required training are subject to further
remedial training and possible suspension from duty until the
(Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his designee is satisfied that a
competency skill has been demonstrated.
Employees who consistently demonstrate a lack of skill, knowledge or
ability in job task performance based on observed behavior or evaluation may
be required to enter into a Performance Improvement Plan.
Failure to comply with the Performance Improvement Plan may result in
While attending training employees are responsible to adhere to the
rules and regulations of the department and shall conduct themselves in an
The rules and procedures of the training facility and directions
received by instructors shall be adhered to while in training or at the
training facility. Should a
conflict arise the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his designee should be
notified as soon as it is practical.
Employees attending training while off duty and not assigned by this
department shall do so at their own risk and expense. Unless specifically
authorized by the (Chief,
Director, Sheriff) or his designee, department issued equipment or materials
shall not be utilized during unassigned, off-duty training.
The following are considered core
training areas in which employees must demonstrate the required skills and
abilities as outlined by the department for their position. Training in the
core areas will be provided on a yearly basis.
The core training areas will be
outlined in an annual training plan published before the beginning of each
budget year. The plan will
outline core training issues and those that are designated by the (Chief,
Director, Sheriff) or his designee as additional training needs.
Employee Right to Know
Hazardous Materials Response
Use of Force Issues (decision making, restraints, post
Weapons (firearms, impact, aerosol and others
Employees requiring specialized
training to meet the knowledge skills and abilities of their job
classification shall be provided opportunities to meet those needs.
Employees who attend training, attain a
designation or license, or earn a degree diploma, shall complete the
departments Report of Training form prior to the end of the next scheduled
on-duty shift. The report shall
be forwarded to the (Chief,
Director, Sheriff) or his designee through normal channels.
A copy of any training certificates license or diplomas shall be
attached to the Report of Training form.
As soon as possible after the receipt of any certificates, license or
diplomas, copies shall be provided to the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his
Employees may review their own training
file by sending a written request to the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his
designee. The file will be kept
separated from employee’s personnel files. Employees may review their
training file during normal department business hours, unless otherwise
agreed upon by the (Chief, Director, Sheriff) or his designee.