One of the things I consistently hear from people in law enforcement is that it takes three to four years for a new officer to develop into a solid street cop. If that is true, which I believe it is, the question then becomes, “What are you doing to in that first four years to ensure they develop into the solid officer you expect?”
Are you intentional about scheduling people for professional development training in those first four years? I am not talking about the mandatory in-service training they will attend along with everyone else; I am talking about professional development training. When I say professional development training I am talking about courses to enhance their investigative skills, their interviewing skills, their stress management skills and their leadership skills.
In an webinar with Gordon Graham and Tony Kern PhD, the author of Going Pro, I heard Tony talk about applying the apprenticeship model to law enforcement training. It struck me as a topic bearing more discussion and exploration.
Is there something we can learn from the trades where you are an apprentice for your first four years. Those years are a combination of on the job work experience and ongoing professional development training. That training is intentional and designed to continually increase people’s skills and abilities over time. The training is mandatory and not simply a matter of “If you can find time to fit it into your schedule it would be nice if you attended.”. Would this require some long term planning? Yes. Does it require a commitment on the part of the agency? Yes. Would it pay long-term benefits? Yes.
This is not to say that at the end of four years the professional development stops. As a profession we need to find ways to continually deliver professional development training to our people over their entire careers. Frontloading all the training and then simply providing mandatory, check the box in-service training every year, with professional development training being optional, is not serving our profession very well.
How could you apply the concepts from the apprenticeship model in your agency?
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.