It is imperative that police officers and emergency dispatchers understand and master an array of competencies and skill sets. Emergency dispatchers must be skilled at multi tasking: radio traffic, computer inquiries, business calls, lobby visitors and 9-1-1 calls. In a single patrol shift a police officer may calm a mentally ill person, prepare a complex burglary report, engage in a high speed pursuit and use appropriate force to affect an arrest. Success in all of these endeavors can be attributed to a dedicated and vigorous training program. The Training Unit reviews perishable skills, improves officer safety, assures the maintenance of high standards and reduces liability.
The Training Unit focuses on three vital areas of training: field training, off-site training and interdepartmental training. Through prioritization, mandatory training comes first, followed by essential training. All training must comply with POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) mandates and legislative requirements. The basic police academy, field training program and many specialized classes (ie. sexual assault investigations for new detectives) are examples of mandated training. The goal of the training unit is to provide the training necessary to keep our officers and the public safe. The more training our personnel receive the better their knowledge and overall performance will be.
The Training Unit is supervised by a Sergeant. He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the unit, supervision of the field training officers as well as the overall effectiveness of the unit. The sergeant balances the department’s training needs with constraints of time and money. The sergeant completes these duties in addition to supervising a patrol shift.
Field training is the initial development of an officer or dispatcher. To accomplish this task the unit employs up to four field training officers (FTOs) and three communications training officers (CTOs). The FTOs and CTOs are dedicated professionals whose goal is to produce competent officers and dispatchers. Officers entrust their lives to one another and their dispatchers, thus illustrating the importance of high quality training.
FTOs and CTOs are two of the most challenging positions in the department. A typical 12 hour shift requires the FTO/CTOs patience as they are side-by-side with the trainee during which they motivate, train, test, remediate and expose the trainee to duties which many people will never encounter in their lives. Our trainers participate in a rigorous selection process and after being selected, are sent to advanced training schools to assist them in their new positions.
The Officer Field Training Program is an intensive 20 week program that recruits must pass after completing a six-month police academy. In total, the department invests approximately one year of training before a recruit is ready to assume solo patrol duties in a professional and effective manner. The Field Training Program consists of daily written evaluations of the trainee, weekly tests on codes and procedures, practical exercises to develop their skills and test their abilities, and a final 3-4 hour oral board examination to insure the recruit’s retention of knowledge.
The dispatcher Field Training Program is a 16-week program, but no less intense. Dispatchers are also required to complete a 3-week POST Dispatch Academy. Dispatcher trainees are also subjected to daily evaluations and weekly tests.
Off-Site Training Courses
Off-site training courses are not taught by departmental personnel and require officers to travel to the training location. These courses consist of POST mandated training and essential training necessary to meet departmental goals and objectives.
Each year, departmental personnel attended in excess of 40 different off-site training classes, covering a wide variety of law enforcement related topics. Examples of these classes are Supervisor’s courses, Instructor Courses, Interview & Interrogation, Search Warrants, Field Evidence Technician, Public Records Act, Sexual Assault Investigations, Evidence Management, Leadership, Presumptive Drug Testing, Drug Influence Investigations, SWAT, Computer Forensic Training, EPAS Operator (Breath Test Machine), Officer Safety & Field Tactics, Internal Affairs, Media Relations, Homicide Investigations, Robbery Investigations and Terrorism Liaison Officer.
The Training Unit provides ongoing interdepartmental training in order to continually develop officers. This is accomplished by experts from this department conducting training for in-house personnel. In order for personnel to become experts they are selected then sent to instructor training (through off-site training courses). This allows for the most efficient and cost effective training for all department personnel. Examples of departmental training include firearms, defensive tactics, emergency vehicle operations, first aid / CPR, interpersonal communications and SWAT training.
The Training Unit also provides roll call training on a monthly basis to all officers. Training includes legal update videos, guest speakers, cutting edge training videos, and supervisory review of policies and procedures.