One of the common frustrations I hear from trainers is that their people won’t train on their own. The officers complain that they don’t get enough training, but then they only train when they get sent to training. Why?
There are a lot of reasons. Here are my thoughts on a few of them
Most agencies don’t have a culture of training and learning. Training is done occasionally, sometimes poorly, and too often it is simply “check the box” training or done to appease politicians and / or special interest groups. When budgets are tight training is one of the first things to get cut. Officers feel that training is not something the agency values and is willing to invest in and they simply adopt the same mentality. This is a dangerous mindset for and officers. The reality for officers is that agencies never respond to calls and therefore never get injured or killed, but officers do. Agencies never suffer from stress related illness or disease, or PTSD, or depression, but officers do. Regardless of whether an agency is willing to invest in training or not, officers need to be willing to invest in themselves.
We often have a trainer heavy culture in law enforcement training where everything is by the numbers and the trainers are controlling everything that the participants do. Participants are not allowed to problem solve, self-diagnose and figure things out on their own. As a result, we often fail to teach people how to train, learn and grow on their own. We also miss the opportunity to build in peer-to-peer feedback and teaching and into training and therefore miss the opportunity to help them learn how to train with their peers. As a result officers often believe that training is something that has to be done on long blocks of time and has to be conducted and controlled by members of the training cadre. Teach them how to train in 10 minute blocks. 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week, 48 weeks of the year equates to 32 hours of training a year.
Starting at the academy some trainers create negative associations to training and learning by the way they treat recruits and they way they deliver training. Part of the mission of trainers and coaches is to seek to instill a love of learning and a love of training in the people they coach and train. In order to do this training much be challenging, purposeful and fun. The emphasis should be on effort, growth and individual progress. This attitude of mistreating recruits too often carries over into in-service training. Inservice training should be a place where officers are continually being challenged with new training that is designed to allow them to grow by training at the outer edges of their skill level while having fun at the same time. If training is the same thing every year with the exact same PowerPoint, the exact same drills in the exact same order then it is clear that the trainers are just going through the motions and officers will tune out. If training is seen as a place where officers will get set up for failure and belittled and demeaned, they will turn against training.
Very few agencies have Training Libraries where they provide access to a wide variety of short training videos on skills and tactics that their people can access as a refresher when training on their own and with peers.
When officers are willing to train on their own and are looking for help from the agency to provide time off to attend a conference or other training event, they are often told “No”. Since officers have limited annual leave and want to use that to spend time with their families, they feel they cannot afford to deny that time to their family and as a result do not attend the training.
Very few agencies teach their frontline supervisors how to deliver training in short 10 minutes blocks at roll call. As a result very little actual Roll Call Training takes place. Roll Call is a great opportunity to conduct when – then thinking exercises, video breakdown, and incident debrief and other types of decision training. When done properly the constant micro dosing of training throughout the year can instill a love of learning and training in officers.
In some agencies the officers are simply beat up and tired from working too many hours for too long due to staff shortages, civil unrest and other issues. They are burned out and exhausted and the last thing they want to do on their rare off time is train on their own.
There are a lot of reasons why officers do not train on their own. Do some leg work and find out what the issues are in your agency then do what you can within your sphere of influence to change that and make it easier for them to train throughout the year in small time blocks.
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