During my Excellence in Training Course and the controls tactics instructor courses I teach I always ask about in-service training. I ask about how many times a year officers go for training (not qualification, but training) in control tactics, firearms, officer safety, first aid, etc. The answers vary from agency to agency, but the reality is that few train in these areas more that a few times a year. For some agencies it is one day a year, for others it is multiple days.
Regardless of how many days you get each year we need to ask if there is a way to make the training more regular. Now, people argue with me and stat that they are locked into a certain number of hours a year and their agency will not change that. OK. Can you change the way you deliver that number of hours?
For instance, one trainer recently told me he gets 5 days of control tactics training twice a year. Excellent. My experience however, is that this is significantly more than most agencies in North America. Here are some of my questions:
- Instead of 5 days twice a year can we find a way to deliver one day a month for 10 months?
- Even better, can we find a way to deliver have a day every two weeks for 10 months?
- Even better can we find a way to deliver 2 hours a week for ten months?
Before you start to argue that this schedule is not logistically possible, step back and imagine ways to make it work rather than immediately arguing that you cannot do it. If you had more instructors spread throughout the department could you do it? If you trained the sergeants to deliver some of it could they do it at roll call or shift briefing? What other options are there for delivery of the material on a more regular basis?
The point here is that we need to find new ways to ensure we are training skills, tactics, knowledge, etc on a more regular basis. Annually is not the ideal. The ideal is to make a shift in our traditional thinking and find a way to make every day a training day. Even if we only train for 10 minutes every day it will make a difference. 10 minutes a day, four days a week for 48 weeks (that gives you a month off for holidays) is 32 hours of training a year. That 10 minutes can be spent on a skill, reviewing a tactics, discussing an element of the law, reviewing policy, having a When / Then discussion, or a variety of other training ideas. If we could make 10 minutes a day in addition to the annual or semi annual training your officers already do think about the difference it could make to the overall skill level and professionalism in your agency.