A three-part series on the state of law enforcement field training, recent reports, and responses

Phillip White

(Part 1 of 3)

December 21, 2022

In recent years, many things have changed in law enforcement, from transparency, body cameras, and oversight to the implementation of new laws regarding records releases and officer certification reviews, however, one thing remains the same – police departments, sheriffs’ offices, communities, cities, and towns all over the United States need professional law enforcement officers.

Foundationally, law enforcement agencies must, hire and train new people, which takes place at the academy level and in field training. A recent USA Today article discussed how a mass exodus of seasoned officers is leading departments to re-think who and how they hire and train, leaning toward police reform in their practices, the article states in part, “…others (departments) are trying harder to change the process and attract candidates who better reflect the communities they serve.” (Brown, et. al 2022). While departments look to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring and training, many are not seeking to innovate. Former chief, Theron Bowman stated, “Most of the police departments out there are complaining about personnel shortages, very few of them are innovating, and doing things in a way to significantly address those shortages, long term” (Brown, et. al 2022).

Additionally, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the preeminent think tank and police policy-making entity has published a report regarding academy and field training. Their Transforming Police Recruit Training: 40 Guiding Principles clearly outline where and how law enforcement agencies can get in front of police reform challenges by implementing their recommendations in training. Most notably, their policy suggestions, in Guiding Principles 34-40 of Area 5, specifically refer to field training. In short, PERF’s principles may appear uncomplicated, but application, without professional guidance or leadership and managerial-related infrastructure, may seem daunting and unattainable. Certainly, there are ways to innovate in training to not only develop professional law enforcement officers but provide the type of training that will elicit a desire to remain with a department.

In Part Two of this series, I will highlight some of the PERF report’s key points. In Part Three, I will provide suggestions on how Granite State Police Career Counseling and its Field Training Administration Consulting can help your department come into compliance with PERF’s training recommendations and get out in front of the police reform that is surely coming.

Brown Jr, J., Jennings, O. & Brown-Clark, L. (2022, December 21). ‘It’s Hanging’: As officers quit in droves, departments see an opportunity for police reform. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/12/21/police-officers-quit-reform/10891315002/

(Phillip White is GSPCC’s Operations Manager, Instructor and is the San Jose (CA) Police Department’s Field Training Program Administrative Officer and POST Certified Coordinator.)