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The History and Importance of Police Training

The History and Importance of Police Training

Gone are the days of a county sheriff handing his buddy a badge and gun and “Deputizing” him to go out on the street and enforce laws that he/she had never been trained in. In today’s modern law enforcement world, police training is as important as doctors attending medical school or lawyers passing the bar exam.

Without properly trained police officers, our society could not successfully function. Police officers must be trained extensively in federal and state law, evidence handling, prisoner transport, handcuffing, defensive tactics, firearms, driving, customer service and many other areas of law enforcement.

History

In 1967, the Presidents Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice determined that there was a greater need for the proper training of police officers. It recommended no fewer than 400 hours of instruction and a 12- to 18-month probationary period. It also recommended no fewer than 8 weeks of field training and college education for different levels of police officers.

Service

Police officers need to be trained in professionalism and customer service. The very nature of policing requires officers to interact with the general public, and they should have problem-solving skills, while being polite and professional at the same time.

Education

As each decade passes, college education has increased in the police ranks. Because of the complexity of policing, and the many aspects of it, the more education an officer has, the better he is prepared to deal with matters on the street. Many colleges and universities are offering bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in criminal justice. August Vollmer, the first police chief of Berkeley, Calif., and considered the father of modern-day policing, first proposed that police officers should be college educated. He established the first school of criminology in 1916. “Vollmer’s emphasis on an educated policeman has been carried forward and expanded under each of the three men who have succeeded him” according to Time magazine.

Liability

It has been shown that a link exists between the lack police training and liability. The better training the police have, the lower the risk that an officer will bring down civil or criminal liability upon himself or his police agency. According to Jack Ryan, “If, following this grant of qualified immunity for the individual officer, a court finds that the violation was the result of some policy or training issue; the agency may still be liable”. Matthew McNamara, of Triple Canopy, points out that The United States Supreme Court has ruled that police agencies can be held liable for failure to train, and he states that “Good, clear documentation of training is a must”.

Protection

Law enforcement officers often are called upon to protect themselves or others from violence. This sometimes will require an officer to use force against a violent offender. Knowing the amount of force necessary to stop the offenders’ action requires extensive training. Officers are trained to use a variety of weapons, including hand-to-hand combat, pepper spray, Taser, handcuffing techniques and deadly force.

Without proper training in all of these areas, we as officers would be considered nothing more than a rogue gang out on the streets strong arming everyone else. Law enforcement is a profession, and because of training, we are a highly respected profession.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    denestu

    over 1 year ago

    24 Comments

    A few years ago, I looked into the number of dollars from the state flowing into a private college in Moorhead (Concordia College) compared to Minnesota State University for a up-to-date publications data system. Moorhead and found that Concordia received three times more in funding than MSUM received. I feel that the state should maintain it's partnership with the public schools, rather than handing over funding to a college that is not accountable to the state of Minnesota.

  • Shooter_max50

    rivermannate

    almost 3 years ago

    10 Comments

    Police culture has definitely changed over the years. I hear the stories from the old war horses about how it used to be and it was definitely a different time. I think that we can find a balance between the old and the new. There is such a thing as too nice, and too nice will get you killed. Look at the profiles of officers killed. One of the common attributes is He/She got along with everybody or was the nicest guy/gal. There is a time to talk and there is a time to act. Train to know the difference...

    An very seasoned Sgt in my department told me something when I was a rookie that his stuck with me my entire career. He said, "I will ask you the first time, tell you the second time, and the third time I am going to do it for you." I have base most of my interation with the public based on this rule and it has served me well.

    As for education, it does have a place. Getting a college degree shows that you are commited to a process and that you are most likely teachable. But it is not the end all be all of the police world. I have seen some rookies hit the academy that have master's degrees that can't tie their own shoes. A degree does not make a street cop, experience does. You can't read in a book how you will react the first time some dirt head takes a swing at you.

    Just my humble opinion...

  • Usmc_rifle_team_match_max50

    jhall41

    almost 3 years ago

    70 Comments

    Coresecurity you’re hitting center bull. I have a long history as an instructor and course development so I can speak from experience. Instructor development that includes field time “street cred” is essential. Instructor rotation to keep those skills fresh is also a good idea especially for critical subjects. For instance work place diversity or sexual harassment can be presented by just about any qualified instructor while life saving techniques and self-defense requires demonstrated performance with updated experience. One thing to consider also, which is a common misconception in any business, is that the top performing individual is also by nature, a top instructor. Some of the worst training that I’ve experienced has been by that instructor. They may be a top individual performer but cannot clearly convey the lesson points to the students. They may not have “the heart of a teacher” and personal interest in the students. Hearing about how great they are doesn’t help the student when they go to the field. In the Marine Corps I wanted my students to know general military subjects like building a latrine sure, but I had a vested interest in them knowing and being proficient at land navigation, radio operation, weapons proficiency and first aid. Even at that, without being dependable, trustworthy and being a strong team player, that knowledge is worthless so those skills have to be developed also. This demonstration of skills and knowledge applied to every student from the village idiot to the Rhodes Scholar. Being secure enough as an instructor to be able to learn from the students is an important trait also. In a personal protection certification class the other day I had three street smart 3rd degree black belts as students. I immediately tapped that resource and the class, including me, came away with considerable more knowledge and skill. Instructors need to remember that they may have experience, knowledge and skill but there is always something new to learn and someone better than they are.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    e6j

    almost 3 years ago

    2 Comments

    Training is the difference between mediocrity and excellence. All you need to do is look at any elite military unit or championship sports team. They train to be the best and only recruit the cream of the crop.

  • Joe_max50

    coresecurity

    almost 3 years ago

    24 Comments

    Quality training is a key element in law enforcement, always has been, always will be. Note that I said quality training. I have been in law enforcement over 22 years now and have been exposed to my share of great, good and terrible training. There are a lot of experts out there. What I would like to see is one standard to meet for training officers, like myself. This standard would not be curriculum driven due to the vast amount of programs being taught, but would rather be "instructor Development" oriented. What I mean by that is that Instructors would have to demonstrate their ability to teach a course (any course) with some type of methodology and professionalism. They would also have to have "street cred" or some background and experience to be permitted to teach whatever course they were professing to be an instructor in. Just my opinion, I would like to hear everyone elses opinion on this as well.

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    JeffreyP

    almost 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    Customer service is the wrong approach to the "serve" of to protect and serve. We don't do customer service and cops should not be trained as if we do.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    almost 3 years ago

    Those days aren't gone.....

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    I will be entering school next month to pursue my career in law enforcement. :D Very helpful article.

  • Picture_100_max50

    crowfeeder

    about 3 years ago

    928 Comments

    Education and training is a major key to success.

  • White_shirt_max50

    uncledennis1

    about 3 years ago

    23296 Comments

    Education is very important to our profession. Studies have shown that educated police personnel are involved in less civil matters than our uneducated counter parts. I grew up in a small community and recall those elected to the town council was issued a badge and ID. Full police powers and no training. There were some problems. Thank goodness those days are past. Good article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    maxxoccupancy

    about 3 years ago

    328 Comments

    I have to disagree still further. I have seen the police profession moving in the wrong direction from what the public has been asking for. I.e., many are no longer working as peace officers, but law enforcement officers. Many no longer view themselves as protectors of the public, but overseers of civilians, ensuring that members of the public do not, "Step out of line." Rather than keep the peace and deliver suspects and evidence to the courts, many departments want their officers to hang a crime on someone. What I have seen in recent years ranges from a paramilitary standing army to borderline gestapo, using fear and militancy to "keep civilians in line." This mentality is coming from somewhere, and I believe that it's coming from their formal police training. There's a need for specialized training, in my opinion, but only for gathering DNA, performing CPR, and similar specialized tasks.

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    bexarkat

    about 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    Soorry maxx - I have to disagree. The only thing that kind of OJT was to teach the younger officer how to replicate the veteran's mistakes or misconduct...cannot do that anymore (when I started we could and did). Today's officers need to get their basic training from competent and qualified officers and in some cases non-sworn folks regardless of their time in service.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    maxxoccupancy

    about 3 years ago

    328 Comments

    I disagree with with the premise, though not all of the points made in favor of it. Peace officers were once trained by veteran partners on the job. In my opinion, that produced better results. Having all officers in a state trained by a handful of desk jockeys who've been off the streets for years (sometimes for political favors, let's be honest) tends to result in the same biases and bad assumptions being perpetuated. Granted, specialized training later in one's career needs to be run by specialists, but I strongly feel that initial training should be on-the-job by veteran beat cops.

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    AdrianStroud

    about 3 years ago

    12 Comments

    I feel that Federal tax money, or seized drug money, should be poured into training Police Officers. Yes, I always capitalize Police Officer because I have respect for my profession. When I first got on, I had to pay for most of my own training if I wanted to be a better cop. I used to get together with my friends and pay to got to Street Survival with them. Unfortunately, training is often metered out to officers that are being groomed for higher ranks, and not to the guys on the street.

  • Txbadge_max50

    CenTexCop

    about 3 years ago

    50 Comments

    Agree with this article wholeheartedly...right up to the last sentence. Law enforcement is a profession, but despite training it is not a highly respected one.

    The reasons for this are legion, but a big part of it comes from the fact that every average Joe thinks he knows all there is to know about police work because he learned it from television. John Q. Citizen watches COPS, watches all the umpteen police procedurals on TV and all the movies that purport to portray police work, and thinks that he knows what we know and understands what we see and do.

    TV doctors on all the medical dramas throw around incomprehensible medical terms, diagnose bizarre and strange diseases, and miraculously save lives. Hospital dramas underscore constantly all the training doctors and nurses get while making it crystal clear that the layman knows jack-diddley-squat about what they're doing. TV cops, on the other hand, spend half their time doing it wrong or circumventing the law, and the only thing they seem to know about police work is barking the Miranda warnings that everybody who watches any TV at all can recite from memory. Hell, anybody can do THAT.

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