Too many of the discussions in law enforcement circles today are still focused on frontloading training and education and then putting officers in a holding pattern for the rest of their careers.
Many of these discussions are hung up on the debate about whether or not to require applicants to have a university or college degree to get hired. Lets focus on hiring the best candidates, the ones who possess the character traits you are looking for, exemplify the values of your organization and are committed to serving their communities as a law enforcement professional. Some of them with have university degrees and some will not. Some will have multiple degrees, some will have military experience, others will have skills acquired in the workforce and have vast experience in dealing with and leading people, and others will have experience through travel and / or volunteer and humanitarian work. They will come with diverse backgrounds, upbringings and experiences and have diverse thought processes and problem solving abilities. They will get hired because they are the best candidates and the best fit for your organization.
The training, experiences and education they have prior to being hired is the foundation that you need to build on for the remainder of their career. The Academy is the first layer of building on that foundation in their journey as law enforcement professionals. The next layer is provided during the FTO / PTO phase providing training, coaching and mentoring on how to apply the learning and skills from the Academy into real world environment in which they will now function. The FTO / PTO phase should also expose them to a cross section of members of the communities they serve by teaching the new officers to get out of the car every day and having non-enforcement interactions with citizens in their communities.
Unfortunately, in many agencies this is where the professional development stops. The majority of the mandatory training the rest of those officers’ careers will be qualification, requalification, training that is mandated in their jurisdiction and training to address topics deemed to be important by politicians or special interest groups.
We need to change this mindset. You need to create a culture where people in your agency are continually getting training in small chunks on topics such as decision making, leadership, emotional intelligence, sleep and fatigue management, mental preparation, wellness, health, report writing, investigations, legal updates, policy reviews, effective communications, implicit bias, innovation, lessons learned from close calls, near misses and other events in your agency, use of force, response to active killers, mindfulness, and breath work to name a few. This training can be delivered in ten minutes at roll call so every day becomes a training day. This would be in addition to the training currently being done in your agency. What good is 10 minutes a day? 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week, 48 weeks of the year equates to an additional 32 hours of training every year. More importantly it creates a culture of daily training, learning, and growing.
The added value of those ten-minute training sessions at the start of shift is that they will generate ongoing conversations with your officers over the course of their shift. This will continue to enhance their decision-making, knowledge, skills and ability to identify and access resources.
The development of these small training modules can be a collective effort within the agency and does not just have to fall on the “trainers”. You have people with interest, knowledge, education, training and passion for a variety of topics in your agency. Get them involved in developing ten-minute training in those topics with the guidance of the training staff. Video taping training is easier now than it has ever been and even if you do not have a formal video unit there are people in your agency who have skills in the area of making and editing videos. Making videos to explain new policy, procedures or directives that are coming out, or explaining the budgeting process can involve your agency management. Your Professional Standards personnel can provide training on Career Survival Tips based on the most common types of citizen complaints they receive.
Getting a wide range of people in your agency involved will help to make this part of the culture of the agency, showcase the talent in your agency, identify people who can be groomed to take on a more formal roll as a trainer and help to make people feel like training is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of the small number of people who have the formal title of “trainer”.
Start small. You do not need to create hundreds of Roll Call Training sessions in the first week. Take one key topic like leadership and break it into small chunks that could be delivered in ten minutes. As you go you can get input from frontline officers and supervisors on topics of interest to them and get input from your agency leadership on topics of importance to them.
Start looking for people in your agency who would be interested in getting involved in delivering this training. These can be frontline officers, FTOs and frontline supervisors in addition to people who are already adjunct instructors in a variety of topics.
The key is to start. Too often we get bogged down in committees, doing research on “best practices” and trying to write policy and procedure when we just need to get started and run the experiment. You can refine and innovate as you go.
Culture takes time to build. Culture change takes time. Be patient. Be persistent. Think – long game. Invest in the Infinite Game and Infinite Mindset and realize you are never done. This is a long-term project that will never end. It will simply grow, develop and improve if collectively we are willing to do the work and make the investment. It will not be easy, but it will be worth the investment of time and energy.
Winning Mind Training – Dedicated to the heroic men and women of law enforcement.
Dare to Be Great Leadership – Committed to helping aspiring and frontline leaders on their leadership journey.
The Excellence in Training Academy – Where trainers come to grow. Join the Community of trainers committed to the pursuit of excellence in and through training.