Improving Officer Motivation to Train: The Barriers and Facilitators to Police Training Receptivity

Improving Officer Motivation to Train: The Barriers and Facilitators to Police Training Receptivity
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-05-06
Unit 1Slide Deck: Improving Officer Motivation to Train
Unit 2Transcript: Improving Officer Motivation to Train
Unit 3Workbook: Improving Officer Motivation to Train
Unit 4Recording: Improving Officer Motivation to Train

The law enforcement field is pushed into the spotlight due to controversial and complicated interactions between the officers and the community. Not one to take things sitting down, law enforcement is developing various trainings and implementing new policies to heed the people’s call for accountability, fairness, and improved public service. The efforts, however, still seem lacking which raises concerns on the value of the initiatives being taken and what can be done to increase effectiveness.

This webinar’s instructor is Dr. Scott Wolfe. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. His work focuses on policing, organizational justice, legitimacy, and criminological theory has been appearing in various publications including Justice Quarterly and Law and Human Behavior.

This session’s discussion included:

  • The sustained effort to reform policing brought about by recent incident,s and the various strategies being presented as a silver bullet albeit lacking evidence of effectiveness.
  • An overview of some of the most promising training programs being implemented in law enforcement agencies across the country.
  • Reaping the most value out of training programs by focusing on the topics proven to be effective, and repetition to develop skills and expertise.
  • The T3 study that established:
    • How social interaction-based training trained officers were more likely to prioritize the use of procedural justice and reduce use of force.
    • The concept of diffusion of benefits observed where benefits of the training are also seen in non-trained officers.
  • A deep dive into the theoretical model of police officer training motivation and receptivity’s components.
    • The expected individual and organizational training outcomes.
    • The employee/officer’s receptivity which is based on training satisfaction and/or skill acquisition.
    • The concept of motivation which determines a person’s receptivity.
    • The predictors of training motivation and receptivity based on the characteristics of the organization and the individual.
  • Unpacking the predictors of motivation that causes employees to be motivated before and engaged during the program, and how all of these pave the path to positive training outcomes.
    • Organizational justice where employees respect and perceive their supervisors as fair, believe that their best interests are considered, and are therefore more motivated and receptive.
    • Internal locus of control where an individual believes that they are in charge of their outcomes, see trainings as an opportunity to improve, and are thus motivated and receptive to the training.
    • Self-efficacy where one recognizes their aptitude in specific areas and realizes how training allows them to improve further, gain confidence, and demonstrate their acumen.
  • The importance of motivation, organizational justice, and the role of the individual in determining the success of a training program.
  • Leveraging these realizations by securing the buy-in of employees through effective communication, hiring the right type of people, and fostering a training culture.

Questions from the audience are about:

  • Details of the Implicit Bias Study in a New York City Police Department.
  • The difference of implicit bias from personal opinion or stigma.
  • Correlation between receptivity and emotional intelligence.
  • Enforcing and applying what is learned from trainings.
  • Leadership skills that foster organizational justice and fairness.
  • Recommended training programs or curriculum.
  • Handling officers who are burned out and unwilling to change.
  • Dealing with leaders that do not see the value in training.


Handouts and Resources

If you would like access to any of the academic journal articles, please feel free to contact the speaker, Dr. Scott Wolfe ( or contact your local library to arrange an inter-library loan.


Audience Comments

  • “The role Organizational Justice and Internal Locus of Control play in motivation. Also, a good reminder of selling and marketing the training’s value.” — Aaron
  • “Three Main factors to bolster training motivation: Get buy-in before the training – Organizational Justice, it starts with leadership and transparency – Personality is key! If someone doesn’t have the motivation already, encourage by example and discussion of how it can improve their lives and their experiences personally. Thank you!! I really enjoyed this!” — MacLane
  • “The key components of motivating staff about attending training include organizational justice, locus of control, and self-efficacy. In my role as a manager, I can improve motivation with better communication about the value of particular training. Explaining how the employee will benefit from the training with new skills may encourage training satisfaction. Overall good information for viewers in all ranks.”  — Bruce
  • “Dr. Wolfe did a great job of emphasizing the “need” for changing the culture to training, and gaining the buy-in by installing leaders who will promote said change.” — Damon
  • “I loved all ideas presented including the fact of training attitudes begins with respect and trust from management. I love this simple but powerful idea.” — Gus
  • “This was a very, very interesting topic, and I think one that needs to be emphasized more – you can have the “best” training program in the world, but there are others factors that impact how effective that training will be, and that is something to reflect on.” — Jess
  • “I appreciated the explanation of the internal Locus of Control.” — Jonathan
  • “Excellent job of getting the point across on buy-in at the supervisor’s level. Great presentation.” — Joseph
  • “Motivation is KEY! Motivation leads to receptivity. I believe that hiring individuals with a “training mentality” ties directly into forming a training culture within an agency, but also understand that there are “stubborn” mentalities within each agency to which will show the process of completely transforming the training attitude of the agency.” — Joshua
  • “You hit on a key point when you spoke about the focus on repetitive training, especially with regards to perishable skills. I think we don’t invest enough time and attention on these types of issues.” — Lucius
  • “The Locus of control (external/internal) as a major influence on training motivation and satisfaction – I would have never gone there but it makes a great deal of sense.” — Mark
  • “As the Training Manager for our agency I learned about ways we can work toward improving our overall training program by working on increasing our employees’ motivation to train. The strategies discussed by Dr. Wolfe provide us with a way forward to improve our overall training program for sworn and non-sworn employees.” — Tony


Additional Resources
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