Police and law enforcement officer training can be traced back to the late 1700’s with the establishment of the U.S. Marshal service. Prior to that, locally elected officials policed British North America, as it was known then. Police departments, which run the police academies, became an important cornerstone to training. Philadelphia Police academy and Boston Police academy are arguably the first police training academies, having started as night watches. Boston Police academy is credited with producing the first paid professional police officers, as early as 1854.
The need for high quality policing was evident this early in the history of the police force. After the civil war, there was a deliberate effort to create a police force that was more paramilitary in character and hence the use of uniforms and military ranks was introduced. This was pivotal to bringing order into the system and also creating a hierarchy
The police of the 1845 era were not respected because corruption was rampant. However, as new technologies began aiding law enforcement officers, such as the advent of the police car, the invention and widespread use of two way radio and telephones, policing was transformed for the better. In the 1920s, the Berkeley California police chief adopted new methods of professionalism, placing emphasis on training, resulting in a more central power structure. This kind of professionalism was soon spread across the U.S. in places like Wichita, Kansas, and later Chicago. Police Academies played a crucial role in streamlining recruiting of new officers while also re-training older ones for promotion. The concept of community policing and respect of human rights was also introduced into the training curriculum. However, despite these efforts autocratic leadership resulted in constant friction between law enforcement officers and minority communities. Following the urban unrest of the 1960s, police academy trainers began laying emphasis on community relations and enforced new policies that ensured the hiring of people from minority groups.
More changes were on the way in the police academies as the various police departments began recruiting women officers and granting them similar roles to their male counterparts. The California municipalities were among the leading police departments to hire women and minorities as officers, introducing massive changes that were slowly adopted by other departments.
Today the curriculum content for Police basic training is similar for most police academies but may be adopted to suit the policing environment that the trainees are expected to work and thrive in. Police officers in training at the police academy will learn the following:
This course registers and orients candidates about the various housekeeping obligations in a police academy such as distribution of materials, instruction on study habits, efficient note-taking, and the requirements for quizzes, examinations and culmination events.
Administration of justice
Central to all law enforcement duties is the knowledge and interpretation of the law. The candidates are taught about law enforcement and the Criminal Justice System; the jurisdiction and responsibilities of law enforcement; the adjudicatory process and court structure- both criminal and civil.
Recruits are taught about the constitutional law including discretionary powers, penal law-offenses the justification for use of force, deadly force and physical force, found under penal law article 35. Candidates also learn about the criminal procedure law, the juvenile law and its procedures, how to manage civil liability and risk, and vehicle and traffic law.
The objective of this cause is to teach candidates about field note-taking, report writing, how to communicate effectively, observation and patrol, the nature of civil disorder and ways to control it, handling cases involving: domestic violence, mental illness, persons with disabilities, and crimes in progress. Arrest processing and handling intoxication cases are also taught here.
The main lessons taught here are in traffic enforcement, DWI detection, standardized field sobriety testing, professional traffic stops, how to manage and report a basic crash, and traffic direction and control.
Officers are acquainted with preliminary investigation and how to develop information, interviewing techniques for suspects, witnesses and victims, physical evidence, injury and death cases, sex crimes, common criminal investigation techniques, theft, robbery, arson and organized crime, narcotics, case preparation and abducted children.
This training covers interpersonal skills and arrest techniques, defensive tactics, unusual occurrences and critical incident management such as hazardous material, and emergency vehicle operation.
Taken as a critical aspect of officer training, candidates are taught about community resources, crime prevention, ethical awareness, cultural diversity, sexual harassment, community oriented policing, media relations and contemporary police problems.
This course teaches officers stress awareness.
This covers parole, Miranda Rights, environmental conservation, suicide prevention, and laws that cover snowmobiles, ATVs and Boats. Candidates may also be asked to write a term paper and do class presentations.
These are all topics officers can expect to learn while at the police academy. Unlike what many candidates may think, police academy training is rigorous and tasking. Here are some ways you can prepare for this exciting time of your life and excel at the police academy:
Start working out
This is important for gaining much needed stamina and endurance. Set apart some three days in the week, or more if you are up to it, for intensity training. Complete a one-mile run, hit the gym and work on improving your speeds of sit-ups and push-ups.
Rely on Teamwork
One of the crucial skills that police academies are designed to instill in its officers is teamwork. In case you have a problem getting along with people and being social, it may be a wise idea to start preparing yourself for a habit change. Habits are not easy to break, but they can be changed. Teamwork is not only useful for getting various course projects done at the academy; it is also vital in the police career.
Go to a shooting range
It is now evident that failing at gun tests is one major reason people fail at the Police Academy. At most academies, when candidates fail the first time, a second test is provided, after which they are removed from the program. To get the right exposure, you can train with a Remington 870 (12 gauge) shotgun and a Glock 17 (9mm) or Glock 22 (.40) handgun. Although you are not required to become an expert shot, getting close enough to excellent will be a great boost for you. To be comfortable for your tests you should practice with both shotguns and handguns.
Get a planner
This is easy to find either as an app or as a paper planner. There are numerous assignments given for different submission dates, which you will need to keep track of.
Clear your mind
Ensure that there are no stress factors that can hinder your concentration at the academy. With the pressure that candidates go through to graduate, the last thing you should have on your mind is a troubling family or financial problem. There are a lot of materials to study including the law and all its twists and turns- so you will make a better student when least distracted.
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