The Value of a Field Training Program.

This is part 1 of a series of articles relating to the development of a Field Training Program.  The use of “officer” may include law enforcement personnel as well as custody/corrections officers.

An FTO Program is a complex management system with the goal of improving the department’s overall effectiveness and efficiency.  The program enhances the overall applicant/probationary screening process with daily on-the-job observation.

Your Field Training Program should be designed to improve the overall quality of new officers for your respective organization.  The purpose of the program is to provide evaluation of and training to probationary officers. The Field Training Program is one phase of the department’s overall applicant/probationary screening process.  It provides a measure of the performance level of probationary employees and documentation for the decision regarding their retention on the department. 

As part of the department’s training process, the FTO Program should be designed to place maximum emphasis on post academy and on-the-job training. 

It also provides a standardized program to guide the department’s Field Training Officers (FTOs) in the initial orientation and field training of newly assigned probationary officers.  The program is devised to assist new officers in making the transition from what they learned in the academy to performing general law enforcement/corrections duties competently in the field.

In developing your FTO Program, your department should consider its management responsibilities, weighing the legal issues raised by the courts.  Court decisions regarding the negligent appointment/retention of employees and vicarious liability of the department mandates that management makes every effort to hire and retain only qualified employees. 

Your FTO Program should be designed to ease an officer’s transition from the academic setting to the performance of general law enforcement/corrections duties of the department.  Although an officer graduating from a Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) has received a thorough introduction to basic law enforcement/corrections subjects, that officer cannot be expected to immediately function as an experienced, or solo officer.

If David J. Harris and Associates can help you develop or improve your Field Training Program, contact us today.