Conventional Training Fails Today’s Officers

Published: August 27, 2011

It’s a complex topic, but I believe conventional police training fails many recruits, including females.

First of all, the old style of training ignores the fact that recruits are arguably the cream of the crop, after passing all the tests and background to get the job offer. They come in all sizes, and have the skills and valuable experiences for policing. Conventional training, like military boot camp, almost always assumes recruits know nothing, have few skills and must be built from the ground up. This way of thinking is unfortunate and relatively ineffective.

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Conventional training doesn’t recognize that people come in all sizes with varied learning styles. Forget for a moment about the question of how this impacts females; our current generation of young officers are tech-savvy and very visual.

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Conventional training doesn’t address this reality. To meet the needs of multiple learners, conventional training needs to shift.

Agencies need to involve the learner in their education. Tap into their previous life experiences, so they connect new information to the old and build on it. It’s important that we make training interactive and challenging. The classroom must be a good interactive learning environment.

Look at the Royal Mounted Canadian Police Academy or the Los Angeles Police Department Academy. You’ll find a sharp focus on fitness, discipline and providing an interactive and positive learning environment in the classroom. These agencies no longer take a one-size fits all approach to learning, which positively impacts the women who go through the academy.

Women generally do have a disadvantage in conventional training environments, because the one-size-fits-all approach is set up for the 6-foot-tall male recruit. This can create a problem for many women.

The LAPD now ensures the weapons we issue fit the person. We hit all learning styles. And we understand people come in various heights. Additionally, we value the experiences of our recruits who have done so much to get into the academy. This philosophy gives them the best chance to graduate from the academy.

It’s a new century, and time for law enforcement training to take on a new look.

Sandy Jo MacArthur is the LAPD’s highest ranking female officer and the assistant chief over the Office of Administrative Services. She is a 30-year LAPD veteran, and her son recently joined the force.

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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