When it comes to training, we need to embrace the Infinite Game Mindset and think about training from pre-hire to post retire. This post will focus on the pre-hire component.
I have talked with several frustrated trainers from agencies that rely on Regional Academies to train their new recruits. Their frustration comes from the way the academies are run and the fact that they have no options other than to send the recruits to those academies. Their concerns are ones I have written about on numerous occasions. The academies are run on the ‘boot camp, or ‘stress academy’ models with some of them making all the males recruits shave their heads at the start of the academy, the trainers do a lot of screaming and yelling and the recruits are continually subjected to punishment for what the instructors perceive as infractions of some kind. The punishment is usually in the form of physical exercise, and it is all too common for the instructors to “smoke the recruits with PT”, often resulting in injuries to a number of recruits. In some cases the instructors routinely beat the crap out of the recruits during “red man drills” under the guise of ‘stress inoculation training’.
If you are forced to send your recruits to one of these academies, then my recommendation is to run Pre-Academy training as well as Post Academy, Pre-FTO training for your recruits. The Pre-Academy training should be designed to give the recruits some tools to allow them to deal with the crap they will be subjected to at the academy. These need to be mental skills as well as physical tools and tactics. The Post Academy, Pre-FTO is designed to repair any training scars created by the academy instruction.
One of the other frustrations I hear from is from Academy trainers regarding the deficiencies in recruits coming into the academy. Let’s be clear, I have no tolerance for generic complaints about “the new generation”. Complaining about the new generation has been going on for thousands of years and will continue long after we are all gone. What we are talking about here are concerns regarding the fitness level of some recruits, and the lack of verbal and written communication skills.
If that is in fact an issue, then what are you going to do about it? You can violate Rule #2 – No Whining, No Complaining, No Excuses, or you can take action to address the issue.
Regarding the fitness issues please stop giving generic advice like “You need to get fit to be successful in the academy and throughout your career.” Google “Get Fit” and it will come back with 9,650,000 hits. That is of little to no value to a potential applicant. What if instead, you created a series of educational videos on the most effective way to train to develop a functional level of fitness to be successful in your academy and how that will serve them throughout their careers. Some agencies run programs on weekend where people who are interested in a career in law enforcement can workout with people from the recruiting unit. This gives the recruiters the opportunity to make personal connections with potential applicants and give them some specific advice and direction on workout principles and concepts that will best serve the potential new officers. If you do not have the time, resources or expertise to develop your own training content then consider sending people to https://www.tacticalfunctionaltraining.com and check out the programs they offer there for potential applicants, experienced officers, trainers and administrators. They make it cost effective and easy to get the training people need regardless of where they are currently at in their fitness journey.
As for the communication elements my challenge to you is simple, stop complaining about the potential deficiencies in the educational system and develop pre-academy training to give people the skills they need. You can develop a ‘Writing for Law Enforcement’ course utilizing people in your agency who have expertise in this area. This might be people who currently teach report writing or people in your agency who have an educational background in this area, along with real world experience in conducting investigations and writing reports. Another option is to partner with a local post-secondary institution and combine their expertise in effective writing and yours specific to law enforcement to develop a program to teach the writing skills necessary for the law enforcement profession.
You could do the same with verbal communication skills by tapping into the vast expertise of people within your agency and develop a program on effective communication skills for dealing with emotionally charged people and situations and offer it to members of the public. You can target demographics where you can get access to potential candidates. Even if most of the people who go through the training never apply to the department you are still providing valuable life skills to members of your community and enhancing the police – community relationship.
The bottom line is you can whine, or you can get to work and address the issues. Whine and work both start with the letter ‘w’. One, however, will move your agency and the profession forward, while the other will cause you to become stagnant, bitter, and frustrated. You can be bitter, or you can be better. You can blame or you can learn and act. You get to choose. You must choose. Choose to be better. Choose to act.
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