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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lakeville PD FTO: Shorter Shifts=More Repetitions

New police officers go through a Field Training Officer (FTO) program once they are hired. The new officers are teamed up with an experienced training officer who instructs and coaches them through the program while they handle incoming police calls. Recently the Lakeville Police Department (LPD) changed the scheduling for their new officers to improve their performance during this training. I interviewed Lakeville’s Deputy Police Chief John Kornmann on what they are doing.

Q. Why did you change your field training officer program?

A. The city of Lakeville experienced significant growth during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Due to the economic downturn of 2008, the LPD did not train a single officer from 2008 to 2011. By 2014, the department was experiencing a hiring boom. After three candidates did not pass the field training program, we began to look at ways to improve. 

One of the issues we discussed was the number of shifts devoted to training new employees. On our 12-hour shifts, the average trainee had 50 shifts to learn the job. Officers who are new to policing must learn the day-to-day routines of putting on the uniform, participating in roll call, logging on to the computer, and taking calls. Fifty days did not seem to be doing the job.

Q. What changes did you make?

A. We decided to try something to improve the socialization aspect of the job. Like all training, repetition is often the key to success. Trainees are now scheduled to work 8-hour shifts, during the high call load times. The trainers still work 12-hour shifts. This arrangement does take some work in the scheduling department. 

Trainees work with two trainers during the week. The result is the trainees now experience 80 shifts devoted to training. During final phases of training, officers are transitioned to the 12-hour shift they will work. This aids in teaching the new officers how to manage their time on 12-hour days versus the eight hours they may be accustomed to, and it further aids in teaching officers what it takes to work here.

Q. What have been the results?

A. The results thus far have been positive. All trainees have made it through FTO using this system. Trainees are more visible to members of the department as they are at work more often. When a trainee has a bad day, only eight hours of training time is used up. A bad day on a 12-hour shift uses up just 3% of training time! Another positive is that the trainers have four hours alone at the end of their shift to complete their FTO paperwork and to remain active with their own police work at the end of their shift.

Q. Anything else?

A. We continue to fine-tune this process but are happy with the result of the changes.

Up next: At UPS, Nothing Touches the Truck

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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