Embed from Getty Images

In late January, KTXA-TV reported that the City of Dallas has reached a tentative agreement with the University of North Texas to build a new police training academy facility at that learning institution's campus in South Dallas.

The existing police training facilities are decades old and woefully inadequate—in the gymnasium there are broken mirrors and rusted weights and not enough lockers for each recruit to have their own.

Chief Eddie Garcia calls the place "embarrassing."

Attracting the 'Five-Stars'

Councilman Adam McGough—who chairs the city's public safety committee—says he views the Dallas Police Department as a Super Bowl caliber team, "Yet we're training and practicing at facilities that are more appropriate for a middle school football team."

This sports metaphor is not unknown to police trainers around the country.

In a recent column in this space, John Bostain—who spent 13 years at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco (GA) before founding his own training company—said essentially the same thing.

"Recruiting and retention in law enforce has to be like Division I schools going after the best athletes in the country," Bostain says.

"Five-Star" high school football players—there are now 31 players with a five-star rating in the 2022 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings—are vigorously courted by college football powerhouse schools like Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and others. Top athletes tend to choose those institutions of higher learning not for their courses in comparative literature or gender studies.

They become Tigers and Bulldogs and Buckeyes because those schools have the best training at the best facilities, thereby increasing their chances to "play on Sundays."

Policing should adopt this model—in fact, some forward-thinking agencies already have—but this obviously requires substantial financial and political support.

Finding the Funding

The discourse on policing—among members of the press, the public, and the political elites—has in recent years been dominated by the "defunding" movement. However, with mounting pressure from people who are witnessing massive spikes in crime nationwide—more than a dozen major cities recorded record high murder rates in 2021—the pendulum has started to swing back somewhat.

Politicians—always eager to throw money at problems as a means of appeasing restless and resentful voters—have vowed to "fund, not defund the police" going forward.

Alongside newly-elected New York City Mayor Eric Adams, President Joe Biden recently told an assembly of NYPD officers, "The answer is not to defund the police, it's to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors."

The president added that there should be more social workers and mental health workers working with police.

However, truly meaningful and impactful reinvestment in law enforcement is not a matter of paying for more social services within the police budget—simply increasing COPS grants tied to community policing efforts.

There exists a real opportunity for thoughtful law enforcement leaders to direct any increase in funds toward building and renovating training facilities that can ultimately lead to those outcomes elected leaders seem to desire.

Modern police training facilities should be a safe and healthy environment for instructors and trainees alike. They should be tantamount to the type of place where a Super Bowl should be held, like the one taking place at SoFi Stadium this weekend.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Contributing Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

View Bio

Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

View Bio
0 Comments