After the Webinar: Lateral-Hire Onboarding – Field Training the Experienced Officer. Q&A with Thom Dworak

Webinar presenter Thom Dworak answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Lateral-Hire Onboarding: Field Training the Experienced Officer. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: Have you seen a difference in performance for lateral hires between an FTO program versus a PTO program? 

Thomas Dworak: I’m going to answer, I don’t know. The majority of what I deal with is on the FTO side, but I can reach out to some folks that I know who do PTO, there are not a lot of them I’m familiar with. But I’ll reach out to them and see their experiences with it.


Audience Question: What is the NAR box on the DOR? 

Thomas Dworak: That stands for Narrative. The DOR slide to Daily Observation Report there is for the San Jose model. The NAR box is a box that gets checked that if there’s a score of two or less or six or more, a specific narrative content must be made about the ratings in those behavioral categories. And the NAR boxes, a secondary box that gets checked to indicate that there’s an additional narrative on the backside of the DOR.


Audience Question: How much are the hiring challenges that so many agencies are facing as a result of the great retirement. Are people are quitting because of the environment? Are people leaving for better pay or more affordable communities? Or simply people not entering the profession? Or is it truly an all of the above situation? 

Thomas Dworak: It’s a little all of the above. It’s very much localized too. I mean, all law enforcement is like government, because enforcement is government, and it’s pretty much a local issue. There are organizations, the town that I live in, is fully staffed. They just graduated the Academy that I teach at last week. And as soon as they’re finished with their FTO program, they’re going to be up to full staff. My former agency is at full staff. They just had three retirements but they’re going to get replacements for those folks very quickly, probably that could be lateral, we generally do home-grown. Larger departments in the area, Chicago, those guys and gals they’re hurting. The published numbers say that they’re down to around 10000 officers and are normally staffed around just under 14,000. The numbers that I hear from the folks in the department itself says, that they’re actually at around nine so that they’re hitting their critical mass stage. Same thing, if you look at Portland or Seattle, Minneapolis, where folks are running from their city governments. You can look back to the mid-90s when they passed all the COPS legislation. And folks who were getting big at the time, they were getting 50 or $75,000 a year for the first three years in the officer was hired to supplement the department’s payroll. In terms of where are we at now, with those folks, How many years later are we? All those people are starting to hit retirement age. And the job in and of itself is, may not be as attractive as it once was. While we have varied work hours, you’re going to have a select group of folks who regardless of what generation you’re in, it’s a service call for them, they would do it regardless of what they were being paid for that. But when you look at some of the other folks is, you know, when you get locked in and you know how most organizations are, you’re probably not going to see the light of day except when you’re going home for 8 to 10 years. And to be locked into that kind of work environment. How attractive is that? You add in the police sentiment. The thing is, is we make a deal out of it, but and while it’s there, it’s not there to the level that everybody thinks it is. It’s unfortunate because you can’t argue with the news media. Because they have a prominent page, so they get to drive within the narratives that they want. And yeah, well, we have some you know, glaringly stupid, unfortunate incidents. There are some things that shouldn’t have happened. Others that were maybe were avoidable or unavoidable but reasonable. And the press made us out to be the bad guy. And it gets hard to get people to want to commit to do that, where it puts them their livelihood, their lives, and their family in danger of losing everything, including their freedom.


Audience Question: Following up on what you just, you were just talking about there. I am just curious, again, as most of you know, I didn’t come from criminal justice. I came from the corporate sector, and we use to do exit interviews in the corporate sector. So really, to try to get at why people are leaving. Tom, do criminal justice agencies, do exit interviews? 

Thomas Dworak: Oh, yeah, when we’re talking about what earlier in the webinar, we’re talking about why they were leaving. Seattle did those exit interviews and had said that the majority of their younger folks, who are leaving not only the department but the profession entirely, they weren’t even going into another organization. Leaving because of the defund of the police movement and a lack of support from the city administrators.


Audience Question: We had an officer graduate from the FTO program last year passed but struggled through. Upon graduation, he did military service, so he deployed for a year. He’s scheduled to come back this spring. What would your recommendation be? Would you suggest treating this as a lateral FTO type transfer again? 

Thomas Dworak: We actually did this. Because we had several of our officers deployed. When they came back from their deployment, they had to do two weeks with an FTO. Just to get them to know policy changes, equipment changes, just to get them back into the routine of being in a police car every day. And there are a lot of departments that have these deployment schedules written in terms of what would happen when they return from their deployments. So, I do see a lot of departments with either recommended or mandated FTO trainings. For those folks returning back from military appointments. For somebody that new, that might be something that after the first two weeks, it might be “Hey, you know what, you might need a couple of more,” especially if they struggled earlier.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Lateral-Hire Onboarding: Field Training the Experienced Officer



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