Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LPD Training

A tangent presented itself from the last post; LPD training. The poster was asking about consistency in LPD Field Training evaluations (grading new recruits). Although I do not proclaim to be an expert in the field, I have been involved in LPD training on many different levels.

First off, LPD runs it's own basic academy which the State Academy in Grand Island oversees. There are certain basic topics that are covered, but since LPD has it's own academy there is leeway to cover LPD specific topics as well. I personally feel that we have tried to cover way too many topics in the basic academy. As it stands, the academy is 17 weeks long. Topics range from Nebraska Criminal Law to dealing with minority populations to firearms. You name it, it gets covered. After graduation, recruits then are placed in the Field Training Officer Program (FTO). This means that recruits ride with selected veteran officers for the next 6 months or so. The recruits spend approximately one month with an FTO and then move on to another FTO for another month and so on. The idea is that a recruit will see numerous different shifts and areas of town, as well as several different policing styles, based on the FTO's that they have been assigned to.

During the course of the FTO program, recruits are evaluated every day in 31 areas. These evaluations areas range from radio procedure to relationships with citizens to knowledge of laws and department procedure. The grading areas cover pretty much everything that a veteran officer must deal with on a day to day basis. Recruits are graded from 1-7, with 1 being unsatisfactory and 7 being superior. There are anchored behaviors included in the numerical score so that FTO's have a way of measuring each performance. The evaluation criteria are enumerated and well known to both FTO and recruit. Recruit Officers know what is required to achieve an acceptable score in each area. Recruit officers must be CONSISTENTLY acceptable in all areas before being released from the FTO program and allowed to be a solo officer. Generally this occurs after the 3rd or 4th month, but sometimes takes all 6 months of the program for the light to come on and for them to be acceptable. Unfortunately, sometimes the light never comes on. Starting about the 3rd month, there should be a gradual showing of acceptability which resumes until all 31 areas are acceptable.

If a recruit appears to be having problems or not progressing, there are many different avenues that are pursued by the training staff to give the recruit the opportunity to improve. There is remedial training, shifting to a different FTO, extra studying, etc. When a recruit is having a problem, it is not a secret to the recruit. They are aware of the deficiency and the efforts being made to effect that deficiency. The whole goal is to get that recruit up to an acceptable level. We do not try to 'wash' the recruit out. Every available option is explored in order to make sure the recruit has the best chance to make it through the program.

However, at some point a decision has to be made on whether that recruit passes the program or fails the program. To a certain degree I think that LPD has made so many efforts to come to a successful conclusion, that we occasionally lower the bar for the recruit rather than insisting that the recruit rises to our standard. In the end though, there are some recruits who do not pass and they are either dismissed, or they see the writing on the wall and they resign. Most of the time resignation is the option. I have personally had several recruits of mine resign and in the end they have thanked me for the efforts that I made to help them. They leave the department with grace and dignity and have determined that LPD is not for them.

Along those lines I will say this: Being a police officer is not for everyone. Particularly a Lincoln Police Officer. Our standards are high. We do the job differently than most other departments. This has been addressed in the past in the traditionalist vs. generalist officer description. Many of my past recruits are great people, they simply were not cut out for this job. If I were trying for a sales job I think my trainers would quickly come to the conclusion that I am not cut out for that type of work. Nothing more nothing less. And yes, some of the recruits who have not made it through our program have gone on to careers in other departments. I would attribute that to simply being a better fit in that particular organization.

Of course I have also seen recruits that have no business being police officers anywhere. But those are the exception. Generally those people have been weeded out in the testing and application procedure. Occasionally some slip through and that is only identified once the FTO program is begun.

As mentioned in a previous post, FTO's are selected and trained before being assigned a recruit. The issue of consistency is stressed through out the training and the monthly FTO meetings that take place while recruits are in the program. Generally speaking, if a recruit does not make it through the program, FTO evaluation consistency is not the issue. One FTO does not determine the fate of one recruit. Several months of evaluations done by several FTO's are examined by the FTO coordinator to insure that the recruit has had every chance to make it to an acceptable level. Admittedly, there is inconsistency among the styles of the FTO's, but there is NO inconsistency on what performance is acceptable, and what is not.

The LPD training program is difficult. You have to be on your 'A' game to get through the program. Do a few duds make it through occasionally? Yes. But those are very few and very far between. I would suggest that if anyone is interested in seeing what it takes to become an LPD officer, enroll in the citizens academy. The Citizens Academy is a shortened version of the LPD basic academy and it illustrates the areas of study that one must pass through to become a Lincoln Police Officer.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very true atticus. I was in the army for six years. There were people that were not cut out for that service. Being a police officer is a difficult career. Have to be thick skinned and live under a microscope. I for one, appreciate everything you all do.

Anonymous said...

I think it is also useful to point out that part of what makes the FTO program successful is making the recruit deal with the different personalities in their trainers. It's important to realize early on that you may not always LIKE all the people you work with, but you need to gain an understanding of how to work with and for them. I had a very difficult month with a trainer. We didn't see eye to eye on much of anything. I was almost to the point of quitting. In the end, though, he made me realize just how much I wanted to do this, and made me a much more confident and consistent officer. He forced me to make a decision and stand by it. After I got out on my own, we actually became friends, and I appreciated his willingness to be a bit difficult with me, in order to bring out the qualities that were necessary to do the job. I think the relatives of people who don't make it through have a misconception that we have a bunch of heavy handed FTO's that are just trying to wash everyone down the drain. In reality, our staffing is such that we would like nothing better than to see EVERYONE make it through. But, I'd rather see an entire class washed than push a bunch of people through that aren't dedicated or capable of performing the job that needs to be done.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking, I truly dont think the chief would just hand over the reigns to atticus, and not really knowing who atticus is.. Well I dont buy it, It wouldn't happen. I thought maybe this was a Garth Brooks, aka Chris Gaines thing, and the chief is also atticus, but not sure.

Anonymous said...

LPD training needs to get away from the college setting and go to more of a military.

Anonymous said...

Atticus sounds as if he possesses wisdom beyond his years. Before his guest term expire, what say he use an upcoming blog to target the subject of LPD's current and ongoing union contract negotiation strife. I would be interested in his opinion, assuming he is a member of LPU...

Anonymous said...

Atticus, What is the Citizens Academy all about? Cost? Time Commitment? Location? Pre-requisites?

Thanks.

Atticus said...

8:45- If memory serves, the whole Chris Gaines thing was a flop because the music sucked. I hope your comment is not intimating that same thing about my guest writing. No I am not the Chief, and as far as I know, he does not know who I am.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't have a clue Atticus. I think it would be a great idea if you could hold some kind of raffle to benefit a charity to guess just who atticus is. Chief trusts you because you are a policeman. And you sound very professional in your blog. I don't think Chief is reading this while on vacation but I actually think you write better than he does. But he probably won't write much about his experiences in the academy because his best memories were feeding the horses.

Zen said...

Lincoln police don't need paramilitary type training. I doubt the populace would stand for it. Think movies, "The Seige", with Bruce Willis. He gives a great description of what happens in a civilian setting when military police and curfew rules are put into place. I still get chills when I see it. I was waiting for discharge after 9/11 and came home through airports still manned by USANG solders. Many of their policing and detaining tactics would not work in a civilian setting because they were never designed for a civilian setting.


General William Devereaux: The Army is a broad sword, not a scalpel. Trust me, senator - you do not want the Army in an American city.

Twelve hours after the President gives the order we can be on the ground. One light infantry division of 10,700 men, elements of the Rapid Deployment Force, Special Forces, Delta, APCs, helicopters, tanks and of course the ubiquitous M-16 A2 assault rifle. A humble enough weapon until you see it in the hands of a man outside your local bowling alley or 7-11. It will be noisy, it will be scary and it will not be mistaken for a VFW parade.

Anonymous said...

Atticus, are you still at LPD? The citizens academy that you mention in your blog was cut a few years ago because of the budget.

Atticus said...

9:28 & 12:23- Sorry, I guess I'm a bit out of the loop on the citizens academy. It WAS a great venue to see what police training is all about.

Zen- The paramilitary academy is not producing soldiers. That term simply means the structure of the academy follows a military format. It's kind of like going through basic training in the military, as opposed to the quasi-college classroom environment our current academy goes through. Classroom may not be all that accurate either; there is a lot of hands-on practical stuff going on in addition to sitting in a classroom.
Both have their pros and cons.

Zen said...

I think the conditioning part would definitely not hurt-not implying anything about the current conditioning of the LPD because I don't know anything about it. NE has many diverse levels of force protocol for officers; other cities have considerably fewer steps in between "Excuse me, sir" and "Game on". I would hate to see LPD become Seattle, or KC, that's all. The utility of some aspects of the uniform would serve well, but some of the training tactics being utilized for street officers in other locales would not, I think. Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information I requested via yesterday's blog. At least now I've heard both sides. I would like to know if any FTOs over the last say 5 years have been limited to only one or two recruits and then been removed from that FTO position.

Thanks again!

Atticus said...

1:16- There have been occasions where officers have been taken out of FTO status. Unfortunately I don't have much information on the specifics or numbers. It's pretty rare.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you should have your own blog. It's interesting to get a field perspective as well as the chief's diplomatic viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

In the last 11 years, I can think of only 3 FTO's (all were veterans and had many recruits during their years) that were removed. An FTO usually has 7-8 recruits per year.

Anonymous said...

I agree. How about an officer starting a blog andit will take off I am sure.
bbrk

Anonymous said...

atticus,just more horn blowing on how great cops are,any recruit that has relatives in the department or retired always skates thru the classes and is handled with kid gloves. i've seen it several times and have made comments to instructors who did nothing,cause they are now on the streets.like several who can't qualify at the range.big joke/

Atticus said...

6:00- Sorry but you are incorrect. I know several recruits with family ties in the department that are not on the street and did not 'skate' through the program. They are no longer here. As far as range qualification, Sgt Jeager and Officer Pitts spend many extra hours at the range working with officers that struggle with the qualification. There are statutory requirements on qualification in addition to it simply being important to officers and citizens alike. No one hits the street until they have qualified with their handgun.

Anonymous said...

Atticus is correct. 8-13-08 at 6pm is greatly misinformed. no surprises on most blogs though. Hasn't reached LJS lows yet thankfully. There are several individuals with family in high ranked positions who have applied with LPD multiple times and never make the cut. I actually can't think of too many relatives that are on the department.

Anonymous said...

Regarding failure to qualify with their service sidearm, I quote from General Order 1330:

"The officer will not be allowed to perform any law enforcement related duty until they have qualified."

"In the event of failure to qualify with the shotgun, rifle, back-up, or off-duty weapon,
the officer is prohibited from carrying the weapon until successful qualification is
achieved."


I'm just a civilian that does a little research. Looks like you're wrong yet again 06:00.

Anonymous said...

To: ANON 9:31

Yeah, thats OUR policy for already COMMISSIONED officers...but the state requires that to become a commissioned officer,in the academy, that they Qualify with the firearms in order to receive their commission to be a 'real' police officer. Our policy mainly applies to requalificiations to officers already having been qualified and commissioned....do a little more research

Anonymous said...

My General Order 1330 excerpts were in response to anon 06:00, who wrote:

"..cause they are now on the streets.like several who can't qualify at the range.

He's apparently referring to COMISSIONED Officers (though they cryptically omit the names of these alleged UNQ Officers), not recruits, in which case GO 1330 seems to apply.

Here's a link to GO 1330, for the readers that wonder how the referenced document reads.

Omahawilliam said...

I'm not sure if I'm asking this in the right area or not, but here goes. I see you have to have a total of 30 points to pass the physical agility test. Is there an area where you can go to see the points scare chart to see where you need to be at time wise for something such as the mile and half run?