Can You Afford to Not Train?
News headlines are full of reports about police use of force, with criticism falling heavily on any use of force. Whether justified or not, officers today are scrutinized to the nth degree, with video footage of police-citizen encounters splashing across social media. Actions of officers are being judged not by an impartial court or grand jury, but by the armchair quarterbacks of the media and the rhetoric of police hate groups.
Backdrop of Hyper-Exposure
Against this backdrop of hyper-exposure, agencies and officers must be prepared to defend their actions. While it may not matter in the court of public opinion, adequate and documented training matters a great deal in the courtroom. It is no longer enough to rely on state mandated continuing education; these requirements are meant as minimal training spread over a number of months or years. Finding time and money for training is especially difficult for small agencies that often have difficulty in just hiring officers to fill slots.
The costs to train must be weighed against possible liability lawsuits that arise due to not training or failing to train adequately. Agencies may fall back on their insurance carriers to pay judgments, but there are caps to what insurance will pay. Also, lawsuits raise premiums, impacting budgets year after year; increased training may not thwart litigation, but will go a long way in mitigating the outcome.
Funding authorities spend money on all sorts of things: swimming pools, welcome signs, monuments, festivals, etc. Something I learned long ago is that the government, local, state, or national, will always find money for the things it wants. Chief executives should be prepared to make a case for training above and beyond minimum mandated standards. Law enforcement officers are given awesome powers: the power to suspend one’s freedom of movement and the power to take human life. These powers must be supported by the knowledge and legal justification for their use.
Can You Afford to Not Train?
The question is no longer “should we train more?” it is “how do we train more?” The law enforcement community is filled with competent and innovative leaders; let us find a way to get it done.
– William P. Markopoulos, PhD
Leadership Positions Held
- Former Chief of Police (Milton, Florida), former Training Academy Director (Harrison County (MS) Law Enforcement Training Academy), former Training Director (Gulfport, MS Police Department)
- PhD in Human Capital Development, University of Southern Mississippi
- MEd in Adult Education, University of Southern Mississippi
- BS in Administration of Justice, William Carey University
- FBI National Academy, 170th Session
- Louisiana State University Law Enforcement Institute, 27th Session
- Chief Executive Seminar, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 15th Session
- Florida Police Chief’s Seminar, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 10th Session
- University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, Arkansas Leader, 8th Session