You might be wondering what police training courses do those recruits who have been selected for the police academy have to complete before being granted access to the uniform, badge and the accessories required by the profession.
To start this ride off, let us be aware of the fact that the scope of the courses involved is definitely wide ranging.
It is also necessary to point out that after graduating from the police training courses of the academy, future police officers can skip the thirty years training on the job and enroll in the PTO program.
This acronym stands for Police Officer Training and is a series of academic learning programs that have been adopted and accredited by over 150 law enforcement agencies.
It has been created with the help of several specialists in the field at the initiative of the US Department of Justice, but more on the subject will be discussed later so now let us review the basic police training courses during the time spent at the academy.
Physical Police Training Courses
First, let’s summarize the focus of police academy courses that are common for the vast majority of the learning centers:
- Fitness-related police training courses (individually tailored for male and female recruits)
- Self-defense courses (basic tactical moves for apprehending and immobilizing uncooperative suspects)
- Firearms training courses (for use when physical force is not sufficient)
While the aforementioned police training courses are mandatory for academies, recruits can also take optional courses such as:
- Rifle patrol specialization
- Taser training
- Baton training
Let us take a closer look at what these police training courses are meant to achieve. For instance, while everyone is familiar with the stereotypical image of the overweight police officer stuffing himself with donuts, that picture is quite far from reality.
In truth, it would be difficult to imagine how a law enforcement officer would ever be able to catch a fleeing suspect without fitness training, so the courses at the academy aim to allow recruits to pass the physical requirements necessary for the graduation.
Fitness and endurance training alone will not land a police officer the arrest, so self-defense techniques in conjunction with the ability to properly handle weapons such as batons or tasers are also required.
However, a police officer faced with overwhelming odds cannot rely solely on his own physical capabilities and will need to make use of the firearms available.
The goal of the firearm courses is to grant student a minimal 84 percent accuracy with firearms, in order to use them effectively and avoid causing collateral damage.
While small side-arms are generally enough to solve common conflicts, being able to handle a rifle correctly is sometimes mandatory for the positive outcome of the conflict.
Intellectual Police Training Courses
Given that everyday life on the force is not all about apprehending suspects and solving violent crimes, the police training courses will also need to develop the recruit’s intellectual and ethical side. In short, here are a few of the courses, both optional and mandatory:
- Juvenile offender specialization (methods and ethics)
- LEADS/IWIN specialization
- Computer specialization
- Public offenses regarding animals
- Legal field training (methodology, jurisdictions, loopholes, etc)
- Hostage negotiations
- Observational techniques
PTO – Police Training Courses
Recruits who have graduated the courses of the police academy are not immediately given a firearm, badge and uniform and sent out onto the streets all on their own right away. Although they have accumulated the theoretical knowledge and have gained some hands-on practice, there are substantially more intricate details to the profession that need to be assimilated.
The PTO programs have already been implemented in a wide number of law enforcement agencies across the US. The training provided by these learning programs aim to:
- Help recruits understand the basics of problem solving
- Teach proper techniques for operating vehicles
- Resolve minor and major conflicts
- Differentiate the moments when force should be used and the level at which it should be used
- Improve safety issues
- Improve communication techniques (with partners, headquarters, witnesses suspects and victims)
- Clarify legal issues (civil rights, authority, jurisdictions)
- Elucidate on ethical problems related to the police officer job
- Teach procedures (writing report correctly, conducting arrests, etc)
- Equip the recruit with methods of addressing both emergency and non-emergency situations
The implementation of the PTO learning program has proven to be substantially more effective in comparison with the former FTO learning program that took place over the course of thirty years.
Not that the PTO program is constantly being tailored in order to address the needs of the agency, the community it serves and the needs of the officers.