When it comes to training in law enforcement, everyone has an opinion. From the way it’s conducted and the amount of time that’s spent on it, to the frequency that it happens, training is a hot button issue right now and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
Beyond the hyperfocus the public has on law enforcement training, other factors are adding additional layers of challenge that agencies are having to contend with.
What are these challenges? Anyone on the force can tell you.
- Officers are retiring or leaving the force for a variety of reasons and taking their irreplaceable skills and knowledge with them
- Hiring has stalled in many areas of the country and there are fewer new recruits than there are open positions
- As more officers leave the profession and fewer are hired on to replace them, agencies are getting increasingly short staffed and officers are working more overtime than ever before
- This overtime is cutting into budgets, reducing resources for other operating needs
- As resources dwindle and officers work more overtime, less time and money can be devoted to training
What can command staff do in midst of these challenging times to attract and retain officers?
While no one solution is going to fix all of these problems overnight, the bottom line is that law enforcement agencies succeed when their people succeed. So, the question becomes, how can law enforcement leaders ensure their people are primed to succeed?
The key is the right mix of training, support, and tools.
Step 1: Training and Professional Development
For today’s law enforcement officers, training is two-fold: ongoing training and professional development. While some might assume they’re the same thing, there are a few specific and important differences.
First, ongoing training is required by states or other overseeing entities and professional development is driven at the agency or individual level. Second, due to being required by states or overseeing entities, ongoing training is often given priority over professional development. And third, professional development generally encompasses topics beyond what is included in the average ongoing training program, including subjects like leadership skills, personnel management, and so on.
To ensure the success of your officers, ongoing training and professional development are equally important. Ongoing training helps officers succeed on a day-to-day basis while professional development keeps them in the profession, helps them secure promotions, and someday take up leadership positions of their own.
As today’s recruits are savvy internet consumers, and as technology options have advanced, offering a blended learning approach that includes both in-person and online activities will make your programs more accessible for your busy officers. For a variety of reasons, including COVID and evolving learning styles, use of online training has dramatically increased over the last few years. Supporting both styles of learning through the strategic use of technology, such as a training management system and applications to track live skills training, not only benefits those taking the training, but also those administering the programs. What’s an hour of your training officer’s time worth? Probably more today. Leverage a training management system to deliver, track, and simplify all your training and professional development programs in one place is a smart ROI decision. Your officers will also recognize the proactive approach and investment to help them excel in their law enforcement careers.
Step 2: Mental Wellness Support
Like many other professions, law enforcement is steeped in tradition. However, honoring these traditions shouldn’t come at the expense of today’s officers.
There was a time, not long ago, when discussing the toll policing puts on an officer’s mental health with peers or command staff would have been taboo. Even today, many officers are uncomfortable with the idea of their peers knowing they spoke with a counselor or therapist due to the perceived stigma associated with it.
Thankfully, attitudes are changing and agencies around the country are putting increased emphasis on supporting mental health initiatives. At the federal level, a law passed in June 2020, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act, “aims to help agencies better understand and prevent suicides among current and former law enforcement officers, corrections employees, 911 operators, judges, and prosecutors.”
These programs underline the changing perception of mental health within law enforcement and how essential supporting it is to the overall well-being of each officer.
At the agency level, many leaders are improving accountability and care for their officers by implementing an internal behavioral health program and an early intervention system to support the program.
Step 3: Tools
In addition to training, professional development, and mental wellness support, a final strategic action that leaders can take to attract and retain staff is ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to be successful.
Beyond firearms, flashlights, radios, bulletproof vests, electronic weapons, and all the basic gear, there are a few efficiency tools that leaders can equip their team with to swap administrative time for more policing time.
Offering solutions that streamline repetitive, monotonous tasks like regular equipment checks or vehicle inspections, or that simplify mission-critical staffing activities, like scheduling callbacks or disseminating information through mass notifications, can offer your officers the peace of mind they need to stay focused and be ready for the unexpected, no matter when or where it happens.
Vector Solutions and Acadis, formerly Envisage Technologies, have joined forces to help elevate the safety and success of public safety agencies and the communities they serve. Acadis’ solutions are used by more than 11,000 agencies, including federal agencies, military commands, state POSTs, academies, and state agencies.Vector’s suite of training, staff scheduling, early intervention and performance management, and equipment and asset management software is used by more than 8,500 local public safety agencies.
Together, Vector Solutions and Acadis help public safety agencies–federal, state, and local–meet training, performance, regulatory, and compliance requirements through one trusted vendor.
Whether you’re looking to streamline processes, improve training management, or offer additional support to your officers, Vector Solutions’ suite of operational readiness solutions can empower them to stay safer, achieve better outcomes, and safeguard lives.
To learn more about how Vector Solutions can help law enforcement agencies ensure the success of their officers, please request a demo for more information.