Police training is a pressing subject in the current political climate. With ongoing protests, calls for government defunding, and growing concerns over the use of force, many law enforcement agencies are taking a long, hard look at their training protocols. Some are finding that they come up short.
Making training more effective isn’t as simple as rewriting an employee handbook. It requires actionable insights, a commitment to growth and development, and a few helpful tools in your kit. Luckily, there are several ways to reassess a police training program to make it truly click.
1. Start with the hiring process
Police hiring has often been stereotyped as “lax.” There have even been lawsuits against several United States cities for not hiring officers over a certain IQ threshold. Refining the hiring process is the first—and possibly most important—step in more effective training. This is due to the fact that if you hire individuals that are difficult to train in the first place, they won’t retain much of what they’re taught.
2. Enact transparent policy changes
With the public calling on law enforcement to be more transparent, what better place to start than with departmental policies? By reviewing your policy standards and addressing discrepancies, errors, and outdated clauses, you’re one step closer to setting a stronger baseline for your training programs. On top of this, you can incorporate new training policies that require the achievement and verification of certain training thresholds.
3. Avoid hour-based systems
Some officers learn quickly. Some learn slowly. However, almost all can agree that satisfying a required number of “hours” seems arbitrary. Instead, develop a training program that requires officers to show mastery over a given subject. Whether it’s de-escalation, crisis response, or shooting drills, an officer needs to be able to prove that they’re adept at any of the fundamental skills. If an officer is able to show mastery, they shouldn’t have to keep poring over the same information to satisfy an hourly requirement.
4. Train to your policies
This may seem like a no-brainer but, given current events, it bears repeating. For instance, if you say that your agency or precinct doesn’t condone the use of certain types of neck restraints, train on this. If you only use a carotid neck restraint, ensure that each officer is taught how to properly perform said hold. This also applies to any other active training policies that you may have on file, whether they include techniques or weapons.
5. Incorporate software
Orion, or OrionCom, is a workforce management company that is dedicated to developing software solutions that aid police and other law enforcement with their training programs. From streamlining effectiveness to ensuring the departments know how to navigate COVID-19 response situations, Orion can help maintain a solid training course. The software can also determine which trainees have achieved and verified certain learning milestones. It’s a smart, reliable way to ensure that you’re establishing a proper baseline for your training programs.
6. Remember to follow up
For many law enforcement agencies, it can seem as though the training is a “one and done” scenario. Officers pass courses, get the word “completed” written next to their name in a file, and then move on. Instead, it’s important to do regular follow up to ensure that officers not only achieve mastery over a given subject but then continue to maintain that mastery. It helps prevent information decay and always keeps officers thinking about their training. You don’t need to incorporate pop quizzes but policy refreshers never hurt.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to make training more effective. Your preferred methods will likely vary based on your precinct. Whether you’re adding a software solution or are enacting policy changes, it’s time to look at your training protocols so you can guarantee they work.