When you attend the academy you feel as if there are a thousand things that you are supposed to do. Make that one thousand and one now. Once you start your career make certain that you document and maintain your training records. It sounds boring, but bear with me and I will tell you how it can save you money as well.
Most of you believe that your state POST or it's called in your state will maintain all of your training records. I hate to break it to you, but this isn't the case. If the state doesn't recognize a training class under state regulations, it will not record it.
Some states may note that you attended non-Post or non-sanctioned training, but that is all. There will be no record of exactly what course you attended. In fact, several of my readers have told me that their states do not recognize NIMS and ICS training courses either. Some states will give only partial credit for top-shelf seminars such as those offered by the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (www.ileeta.org) or TREXPO East or West (www.trexpo.com) simply because they take place out of your state. The problem here is that if you travel, live near an adjacent state, or seek out nationally recognized seminars for training, any of these courses may be omitted from your state training records.
One thing I tell everyone is to make yourself totally familiar with your state's organization and annually check on your certification and your training records being kept by the state. One nightmare of a story I am familiar with was an officer whose certification had lapsed due to a clerical error. A very enterprising defense attorney sought this out and had all of his cases questioned.
So you now think your department will catalog all of this? Strike two on guessing; you should see a pattern here.
What if you quit this department and start with another? Some may retain records of their sanctioned training and that's all. Others may maintain your entire file, while some may not. It could get lost in the shuffle, get lost in a city's information banks, or be improperly entered by a part-time clerk.
It is your training and your career. That makes it your responsibility to keep track of your accomplishments. Make a copy of every diploma or certificate and keep it in a central, safe location.
Beyond looking good on your resume when you want to change agencies, training records can yield benefits you might not have realized.
In your police training you will have to attend EVOC (emergency vehicle operator's course). So you go, weave through the cones, spin and so forth. Take a copy of this certificate to your auto insurance agent. Most companies will give you a discount if you have completed some form of driver safety training. Most recruits are under age 25 and I know at this age auto insurance rates can be hefty. A 5-percent or 10-percent discount can mean some serious monetary savings. Check it out.
You could also find unexpected benefits within an agency. My former department tied in a yearly bonus plan with training hours. You went to their training—on their dime, no less—and you received a bonus for it. Some departments tie in incentives with training and advanced certifications. If you are pre-employment this is something to explore when considering which agencies to apply to. Benefits all add up.
If you do not value the importance of keeping training records yet, maybe this will help. Consider it a ticket to your future. Many departments (such as mine) require detailed resumes for promotion. Some specialized training requires prerequisites to enter their programs. For these situations it pays to have copies of any training certification, especially if someone else has lost the originals.
There are several more stories I could share with you to get across the importance of keeping your own training records, but I think you get it now. Be diligent; don't leave your career in someone else's hands.
Train hard, train smart, and train with heart.