The Arizona Field Training Institute provides education and consulting for law enforcement and correction agencies to address the high expectations of law enforcement in today’s communities. The Arizona Field Training Institute provides a 40-hour Basic FTO School which will certify through a demonstration of knowledge that the attendees have the knowledge and tools to become a certified field training officer.
Having a properly formed Field Training Officer (FTO) program can protect agencies from potential liability from failures or discrepancies in the hiring process, retention of officers, documentation, training, supervision, or Civil Rights issues. One of the main requirements in a consent decree from the Department of Justice is to have a structured FTO program.
In today’s law enforcement the people you serve demands legitimacy, trust, as well as accountability from their law enforcement professionals. Look at the community expectations. Legitimacy – having a knowledge of the laws, job duties, organizational policies, and community expectations, which combined develops the authority in which officers perform. Trust – treating people with dignity and respect, giving individuals a voice during encounters, being neutral and transparent in decision making, and conveying trustworthy motives. Accountability – exhibiting the values and ethics of your agency, being aware of explicit biases, and having self-accountability for your individual actions. These are the communities’ expectations, and many aspects of these expectations are subjective and difficult to write down and learn, much less try to teach to a new employee.
The Arizona Field Training Institute program believes in the apprenticeship process which takes a new hired officer from the academic understanding and knowledge of the law enforcement profession and providing the on the job training necessary in the field to apply knowledge with actions. In Law Enforcement and Corrections, the academic knowledge provided in a classroom setting is complex with all the technical details of laws, the justice system theories of practice and exceptions to the rules and procedures, investigations, report writing, defensive tactics, driving, and firearms all in a 20-week academy. Taking this raw academic knowledge of so many areas and putting it into use in the community where the stressors of life and death, fear and hysteria are real and unbridled, unlike in the classroom setting. Making field training a dynamic environment in which to learn and develop the skills to demonstrate to the community the Officer-in-Training (OIT) has the legitimacy and trust to be a competent public servant, and to be held accountable to the higher standards that are put on them.
There are many areas of the communities’ expectations that just cannot be learned in a 15-week field training program. This is where a strong structured FTO program becomes the essential component for a successful organization. There is no way possible to teach every aspect of law enforcement within the FTO program so the structure of the FTO program must be written with key teaching points that strengthen the key foundational elements of policing which will create a strong foundation for a career to be built on. Having a chain of command for the FTO program that is consistent and independent from swift changes to the program is a key component to a FTO program. From OIT to Commander the philosophies and written directives within the FTO program must be followed and monitored for training that is inconsistent with the program. The FTO and FTO supervisors being selected and vetted for value to the program is important for the quality of training of the OIT’s working through the program. Your agency wants officers and supervisors dedicated to the FTO program, and who possess the knowledge and skills necessary to teach new employees. The last component, which is often overlooked, is the training of supervisors in charge of the OIT while in the probationary phase and their continued training and mentoring. This is the time when the probationary officers develop their work habits and need more guidance and monitoring than officers who are off probation.
Each area that has been discussed should be done with the same dedication to training as those members of your Special Assignments Unit members. With your agency focusing on the best and consistent training within your FTO program your FTO’s and Supervisors can change or reinforce the culture of the department and allow your officers to meet the high expectations set by your community for Legitimacy-Trust-Accountability.