Accreditation has helped make police agencies conform to professional standards. This is a great first step in increasing training hours for cops.
After striving to be counted among the accredited departments, the last thing an administrator wants is to lose that recognition for not providing enough training to officers.
One thing I’ve noticed is that meeting the required training hours sometimes takes top priority over quality. Getting the hours down becomes more important than focusing on how we are training. We must be certain to maximize the benefit to the patrol officer and the community otherwise, it is time and money spent for naught.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of law enforcement training opportunities in the United States annually. Often, department training coordinators look at the schedules and the price of training classes rather than the content of what is being offered.
This is done in order to check off the “training hours” box for accreditation.
THE ANSWER IS OFTEN UNDER YOUR NOSE
We should stop sending a contingent of officers to classes that will never benefit the officers or the community they serve. Instead, focus on using in-house trainers to construct programs which are focused specifically on their patrol areas.
Here’s an example: Should officers working in an urban area be sent to outside training where they will learn to recognize signs of farm animal abuse? This class might be chosen because it is be free of cost to the department and it checks off a box for training hours completed? The answer is: No.
My hope is that most departments have in-house trainers who have risen to their positions because of prior success with the agency. These officers are frequently experts in their patrol areas and have an insight into specific community problems facing their fellow patrol officers.
These trainers should be allowed to develop training programs within their departments which will accommodate specific needs.
There has been a great progression in active shooter trainings available all over the country. There are widely different levels of intensity across the spectrum of classes. If an officer is so inclined, he/she can be qualified as an instructor to serve his brothers at his own agency to train in this discipline.
EVERY AGENCY IS LIKE NO OTHER
This officer should be utilized in his own department to implement active shooter training specific to his agency’s patrol environment. Officers working in an urban environment, where several backup officers may be seconds behind, will operate differently than the lone deputy in the middle of nowhere where backup is twenty minutes away.
Secondly, each department is equipped uniquely. Agencies that provide officers with M-4’s, helmets, and heavy vests should be practicing with that equipment – at least quarterly – to become familiarized and comfortable with using it.
These types of training classes are not one-size-fits-all. To maximize the benefits, we need to design programs which address the specific needs of each agency.
Regarding active shooter response, there is another huge benefit to conducting the training in-house. As everyone in the LE community knows, there are many ways to “skin a cat.”
For example, let’s look at nine officers broken down into three groups. If each group is sent to a different training center and learns slightly different tactics, is that maximizing training benefits? Of course not. Although, any active shooter training is better than none.
What if all nine officers were trained in the same methods together as a team, by in-house trainers at familiar locations (e.g. schools, churches, hospitals)? This training method would be more beneficial to officer safety and increase the chances of a more effective response to save lives.
There is no question that any increase in training hours is a positive for police officers. At the same time, we need to recognize that training can be greatly improved if we look at the specific needs of the specific patrol officers and the communities they serve.
Comprehensive training programs need to be developed by individual agencies, utilizing their in-house trainers, to address the needs of their local region. Not only will it check off the training hours box for accreditation, it might save a cop’s life and benefit the public, too.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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