Re-imagining Police Academy Training

Re-imagining Police Academy Training
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-09-28
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Re-imagining Police Academy Training
Unit 2 Transcript: Re-imagining Police Academy Training
Unit 3 Workbook: Re-imagining Police Academy Training
Unit 4 Recording: Re-imagining Police Academy Training

A lot is changing in policing, but the training methods and curriculum doesn’t seem to be keeping pace with the changes in the profession. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) identified challenges and gaps in recruit training as one of the Critical Issues in Policing. A survey was conducted to better understand the profession and address these issues.

Leading this discussion is Kevin Morison, PERF’s Chief Program Officer that directs various research and management projects to improve police operations at the local, state, and national levels. He has 35 years of experience as a civilian in the law enforcement and criminal justice professions focused on policy, research, and communications.

Specifics of the webinar include:

  • A primer on PERF and its significant programs – including the three-part project that will examine the Police Academy recruit training to establish its guiding principles for the future.
  • The value of Academy training in building both skills that law enforcement officers need on the job and the culture of the agency and the profession.
  • An overview of the survey’s methodology, sample population, and a deep dive into specific survey topic areas that provides insights to the state of the profession.
  • The hours of recruit training implemented across agencies and probing whether this is enough and how these hours are managed based on method and subject matter.
  • The portion of law enforcement’s overall budget dedicated to recruit training.
  • The different academy types across the US and how the different set-up impacts the organizational culture and values side of training.
  • The level of involvement that agencies that do not have an internal Academy has into the curriculum, training philosophy and operations of the regional or statewide Academy they fall under.
  • How recruit training approach and philosophy tend to lean on a balance between academic and paramilitary/stress approach in the past couple of years.
  • The alignment of the philosophy and culture being taught in the Academy to what is actually practiced in the agency.
  • The teaching methods currently used for recruit training and improving this by incorporating more engaging and practical approach.
  • How technology is being utilized to improve recruit training.
  • The most common subject areas taught in recruit training and those with the most hours of instruction allocated which raises questions on the appropriate mix of skills and topics being taught.
  • Integrating officer wellness topics that emphasize holistic wellness as a career-long endeavor.
  • Training and instructor evaluations to gauge the Academy’s effectiveness in preparing recruits for the job.
  • The satisfaction level with how the Academy prepares recruits in specific areas of the profession.
  • How the background of the training director and instructors influences the effectiveness of the training.
  • How rotating instructors’ assignments ensure that they don’t lose touch with what’s going on in the field.
  • The value in leveraging outside stakeholders to provide guidance on specialized topics that officers are likely to face in the job as court processes, mental health crisis, and juvenile justice, among others.
  • The qualifications and trainings that field training officers must have and their role in maintaining continuity between Academy and field training.
  • A rundown of the key recruit training issues that the PERF study aims to address.
    • Creating national training standards to promote excellence, continuity, and consistency.
    • Establishing a philosophy, approach, curriculum, and teaching method that addresses the challenges it is currently facing and promotes procedural justice.
    • Strengthening local agencies’ roles in Academy training and maximizing technology to support training.
    • Making fitness and wellness career-long endeavors.
    • Integrating Academy training with field training.

Questions from the audience are about:

  • Estimated duration of field training for new officers.
  • Retention rates of new recruits.
  • Inclusions in the publication of the study.
  • Education requirements for officers and how it may impact their outcomes.
  • Analyzing topics that are not being taught in recruit training.
  • Reviewing curriculum to meet the needs of the agencies and communities served.


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