Training is Job #1

I keep hearing from FTO program coordinators that they are washing out recruit officers at an alarming rate. There are many factors that affect a recruit’s successful completion of the FTO program. A major factor that I see is that agencies often have FTOs who never learned how to teach.

Training is job #1. FTOs need to be taught how to do it. They need to be taught how to adapt their training efforts to meet the needs and learning preferences of the recruit. They need learn how to create training opportunities during those quiet shifts. In fact, a quiet Sunday night shift is an opportunity for the FTO to go to work with active role-play instruction, case studies, etc. I often see that without training skills, FTOs fall easily into the role of evaluator

As cops, our feedback can be more negative than positive. It’s our nature. We don’t make contacts on the job to give good feedback. We make contacts on the job to take action on a wrong. When we take that practice inside our agencies, both in general and in our FTO programs, we do a lot of harm.

Programs that overemphasize evaluation often fail to develop the FTO as a successful trainer. Evaluation is necessary, but as I said before, training is job #1, and it’s not fair to evaluate when you haven’t taught.