There are three main reasons why it became necessary to develop a field training program for training new officers:
First, policing has changed a great deal over the past several years and, as a result, training systems must be in place to keep pace. It's learning and emphasizes problem solving, a mainstay in today's policing environment. This training program must present the first experience that includes leadership and ethics as substantive topics.
Second, the complexities of policing in today's environment, combined with the introduction of Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving, have greatly increased the difficulty of properly training officers.
Third, a training program must be flexible enough so that trainers can adapt it to their local conditions. That's what this program does. The core element of the program is created to fit this agency.
It is not necessarily the type of training model an agency chooses that reduces liability, but rather the method by which the training is applied and guidelines adhered to that make the difference. Without proper administration and supervision, no training program will protect an agency's interest in a court of law.
We have elected to continue to use the daily checklists to evaluate the trainee's performance however; we have elected to add to the learning and problem solving. Solving problems resides at the center of the FTO learning program. This program incorporates all the regular duties of policing, but they are put into the context of the problem-solving process.
While we do not subscribe to the use of checklists, evaluation still occurs, but it takes many forms. It takes place informally every day, formally each week, and during the evaluation phases by the field training coordinator. The trainee must also solve a number of "real life" scenarios. The benefit lies in the fact that the evaluations become a part of the learning process. The trainee is now more responsible for his or her learning throughout the program. The program will also use a Uniform Learning Matrix that standardizes the program and acts as a "lesson plan" for the program.