The Police Training Officer Program was developed to train junior members of the organization (recruit officers) how to solve problems within the community. The program is based on national-level research into those competencies that all officers are expected to demonstrate. PTO uses a problem-based learning methodology. Problem-based learning is designed to place the responsibility on the recruit for his/her learning under the facilitation of an experienced officer. During the program, recruits are required to work through problem assignments and contact members of the community.

Benefits of the PTO program include:
  • Recruits learn about the ways they best learn
  • Recruits learn to self-evaluate
  • Recruits are required to demonstrate competency in every core area of the program
  • Recruits learn about emotional intelligence
  • Recruits are trained and then evaluated by different senior officers
  • Recruits learn to become problem solvers and value community input throughout their careers     

Police Officer Recruit Allison Rood presents her Problem-Based Learning Exercise (PBLE) over a hypothetical traffic stop.

Often, our officers are presented with problems in their day-to-day duties that don't have an obvious answer or a predetermined outcome from a manual. PBLEs are ill-structured problems used to prepare officers to think on their feet and find the best outcomes.

Before recruits are released from training, they must complete four PBLEs, two board evaluations, and a Neighborhood Portfolio Exercise (NPE). During an NPE, the officer is assigned to a concentrated area within Riley County and learns about the issues pertaining to the area and how they can help the citizens living there.