Field Training Officers (FTO’s) are a critical link in the training and development of new officers. Their job is to help recruits coming out of the academy to apply what they learned in the academy environment to the real world of the street or the jail. Regardless of how great a job trainers do at the academy level to make training realistic, the academy will always be a sterile environment compared to the realities of the field.
The FTO’s job is not to say, “Forget everything they taught you at the academy. Let me show you how things are done here in the real world.” His or her job is to say, “Let me help guide you to apply what you learned in the academy to the real world.”
In order for FTOs to be able to fulfill their mission agencies need to make sure they develop the T in the FTO. In some agencies FTOs are simply trained in how to check boxes on a form, and not taught how to be a trainer. As a trainer they need to know:
- What is currently being taught at the academy. They need to aware of the latest information from legal studies, control tactics, officer safety and firearms.
- How to conduct effective debriefings. Debriefings are a huge part of the FTO process and therefore need to be done in the most effective manner to ensure the greatest learning for the new officer.
- How to build imagery and when / then thinking exercises into their training.
- The importance of language. Words have power.
- How the mind works.
- The effects of stress on the mind and the body.
- How to be an effective coach, trainer and mentor.
The selection, hiring and training is a huge investment for an agency. In order to get the greatest return on that investment it is critical to have great trainers in the academy AND in the field.
Is your agency providing your Field Training Officers with the skills necessary to be great Trainers?
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