Officer Selection and Training
Many children look at police officers as if they were superheroes. The magic of the badge making everything okay. It is not long after the first good encounter with a police officer that many of them dream of one day having their own badge. The childhood dream can quickly become a bit overwhelming when the facts of how that badge is secured is brought to light. A police officer does not simply drop off an application, have an interview with the boss, and secure the job. There are many more steps in the process of obtaining this position, and sometimes the future officer did not take the first one him or herself.
Just like with many other occupations, police agencies use many different methods of recruiting. Finding acceptable recruits is extremely important. Not everyone can pass all of the tests that recruits are required to. In the hopes of finding these acceptable recruits, police officers will often visit with the students in the area.
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Not only do they recruit in the upper education locations, but at local high schools as well. Some of the recruitment for police agencies is done the same as any other profession. Having uniformed officers visiting schools can be expensive, this is where local media also plays a part.
Police agencies will use newspapers, television, and even the internet to let everyone know they are accepting new recruits. “All of these recruitment efforts are important, as they have a direct impact on the quality of police officers that are ultimately hired. ” (Sagepub, 2013) Simply being recruited does not ensure a place on the police force. A recruit must meet certain requirements before he or she can be acknowledged for hiring. Each state as well as each individual agency has some say in what requirements they have for recruits.
There a few conditions that must be met before the recruit can proceed. Some of these things include having legal residency in the United States, and with that a valid driver’s license. Age and education are also something that needs to meet a certain standard. Finally the recruit’s criminal record will be looked into. If the potential applicant has met these requirements then he or she can look forward to the long and thourough selection process. A very initimate look into the applicant, and his or her capabilities begins. The applicant must take a written exam, and have an interview.
His or her physical and mental wellness will be examined through different tests. A full investigation will performed on the applicant. The police agency will delve into every corner of the applicant’s life. In the background checks that are done today even the applicant’s credit score will be known. Finally, the applicant will undertake assessment centers. This is where the applicant will be placed in situations that he or she may see while on duty. “The situational exercises are used to assess applicants’ abilities to work in teams, their communication skills, and their ability to interact with the public”.
(Sagepub, 2013) As if all of this prerequisite was not enough, if the applicant does manage to excel through recruitment and selection, and is offered a job he or she will need to attend a training academy first. The training begins at the academy and will last for the rest of his or her life. “Police officers go through three stages of training over the course of their careers: police academy training, field training officer (FTO)/police training officer (PTO) program, and in-service training”. (Sagepub, 2013) While attending the academy, the cadets will go through classroom training as well as field training.
Every state has its own set of ideas regarding what cadets need to learn at this stage. There are some obvious similarities within the teachings though. Cadets will learn the about everything from criminal and constitutional law to ethics and mediation. This stage of the training really sets a good foundation for the cadets. They will also learn certain field training skills. First aid, investigation skills, self-defense, and proper usage of firearms are among some of the information the cadets will master while doing field training. The police academy school has no nationwide regulated timeline, each individual state decides that.
Even now with the recruitment, selection process, and academy completed the cadets are still not finished. This was just the first step in their career development. After the cadets become sworn in police officers there is still training and skills that will be essential in their careers. The main training that has been the basis for new officers was the field officer training (FTO) program. With the fact that each agency is obviously not run under one united set of policies and procedures, the FTO helps the cadets become aware of what is expected in his or her agency.
There are three phases to the FTO. The first phase deals with individual rules and regulations of the agency he or she is assigned to. The second phase has the cadets training and being evaluated on the more challenging situations of policing. The third and last phase has the cadets actually doing their jobs on a daily basis, while being monitored and evaluated by a field supervisor. The field supervisor is responsible for aiding the new officer while still making sure that he or she is properly doing their job.
Another program developed to fill the lack of community policing and problem solving skills among new police officers is the post academy training (PTO) program. The PTO has eight phases that delve more into the thinking and solving side of police work. This ensures the new officer is not only able to perform their duties through force but also with logic. The long journey from a simple recruit to a badge carrying officer seems to be extreme. There will be more learning and training throughout his or her career. New techniques will need to be learned and policies and procedures are forever changing.
Not only is this training helpful for the Officer’s safety, but the Officer can choose to train in special fields furthering his or her career. With everything that a person has to go through to become an officer of the law it seems the position would not be worth it. Police officers are often disrespected and portrayed to be the bad guy. It normally is not until a citizen has a need for an Officer that they become the hero. Many children saw that hero from the start, and thankfully grew up to become one as well.