I was in a conversation with an officer from another department the other day about training. He was very upset. He wanted to attend a seminar, but because his department did not wish to pay for it he said he could not attend. He ranted and raved about how his department was this or that. Sound familiar?

Evaluate the situation.

The training the officer desired was a solid seminar that I was very familiar with, and it was valuable training. But there were some questions yet to be answered regarding the department's refusal to foot the bill.

I am sure as a young patrol officer he was not privy to his department's training budget. Training budgets are usually the first budgets slashed and its remains pillaged first. It would be rare for a department to allow officers this much funding on a fair or regular basis. So, how badly did he want to go?

Throughout my career I have taken my own time off to attend special training and yes, I have many times paid my way. If it is that important to you and your career interests, suck it up and spring for it yourself.

You may view this as a way to insure future assignments or promotions. This is your career here and sometimes you must make sacrifices. In your department, there are some who think "if the department wants me to go, they will send me." To me they are like the wallflowers at the prom and will never get the opportunity to dance. Oftentimes your personal drive will have to take you there.

Besides, if you have that much interest in the topic matter, you will go; even on your own dime. Granted, if you are a younger officer, available training dollars could be directed to the more veteran officers; you could get told to wait your turn. Take the initiative!

Find work-arounds.

Some training seminars and conferences are now scheduled at tourist destinations so you can make a mini-vacation out of it and even take the family. Consult your tax prep company, for some of this can be a write-off as well as count for professional development. Who said training has to be boring anyway?

I also recommend attending academy training for free on your own time to get that class in. If this is available to you, do it. Get the department to authorize your attendance and go. If it rains on your days off and you can't go shooting, get in some classroom time!

Make opportunities for you and your department.

There will be a time when you wish to gain certifications, for example intox operator, radar, accident investigation, or instructor certifications. Seek out opportunities that your department may wish to invest in you for your future contributions. Yes, these may be more difficult courses, and maybe not what you want now, but build a positive training track record to set the stage for future courses. You must convince others above you that they are not just sending you to training, but investing in future improved performance.

Training budgets are tight today. The dispersal of training is often like feeding an Irish family; everybody will get something but nobody will be full. If you have to take an extra step to obtain some extra training, show some moxie and do it.

Train hard; you are the one who reaps the rewards!

Author

William Harvey
William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

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William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

View Bio
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