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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.
Officers present their Problem-Based Learning Exercises (PBLE) over a hypothetical situations.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.
Officers present their Problem-Based Learning Exercises (PBLE) over a hypothetical situations.
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.
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RCPD officers are first introduced to de-escalation training after the police academy at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. When they return they attend a basic use of force class where the elements of de-escalation as they pertain to the use of force are discussed. The new officer then practices scenarios where they have to successfully de-escalate a violent subject. Then, annually this type of training is repeated in a number of formats. Currently, RCPD has three (3) verbal de-escalation instructors who train officers on de-escalation during our annual Taser re-certification, annually during defensive tactics, and annually during our reality based-training. Officers will receive de-escalation training in various forms multiple times a year.
All employees, not just the police officers at RCPD, receive annual training in avoiding racial or any other biases regarding protected classes. Interestingly, the State of Kansas lists the following as protected classes from police bias: race, ethnicity, national origin, gender and religion; however, the RCPD has added the following classes as also protected: sexual orientation/identity, socio-economic status, and perceived disability and/or age. When training about racial biases, we train about not being biased toward all of these protected classes. Annually we hold a 2-4-hour training in some format pertaining to both implicit and explicit biases, and how our actions as a policing agency can negatively and positively affect others. Currently, we have three (3) instructors who are certified to teach the Fair and Impartial Policing curriculum which was taught for the training year 2018. Last year we discussed cultural awareness, and how culture leads us to view others differently. In the 2020 training year, we are training Fair and Impartial Policing again, keeping these ideas and philosophies ever-present in our employees' minds.
Police interaction with people within our community suffering a mental health crisis is a daily occurrence. To better serve those people the RCPD has taken the “One Mind Pledge” and has met and exceeded the pledge standards. The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness. The initiative focuses on uniting local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations so that the three become "of one mind." To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices over a 12-36-month time frame. These practices include: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization, developing a model policy to implement police response to persons affected by mental illness, training and certifying sworn officers and selected non-sworn staff in mental health first aid training or other equivalent mental health awareness course, and providing crisis intervention team training.
To date the Riley County Police Department has:
As mentioned above the RCPD has established a Crises Interventions Team Council, the regional council includes several mental health providers and professionals as well as representatives from numerous first responder agencies from Manhattan, Riley County, Kansas State University, and Pottawatomie County. The RCPD is working toward training as many of our officers as possible in crisis intervention through the nationally recognized 40-hour CIT training program. Currently, the Department has about 30% of this goal with our police and corrections officers. We did have a 40-hour CIT training class scheduled earlier this year but it had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do plan to reschedule this training as soon as the pandemic threat passes.
We mention the One Mind Pledge and CIT in response to your question about de-escalation because the skills learned and the policies and procedures followed focus almost entirely upon de-escalation of any situation. De-escalation techniques are used by our officers prior to, during, and after force of any kind is applied and, in many situations, prevents the need for any physical force. All of our officers are required to complete Mental Health First aid and they work daily with our Mental Health Co-responders. Again, through these resources officers are practice and experience the power of communication to mitigate physical, bizarre, and often violent behavior with little or no force necessary.
On an annual basis, police officers are required to participate in training scenarios that replicate high-stress situations (approximately 8-10 hours a year). These situations include, but are not limited to:
The majority of the training consists of classroom instruction followed by officer scenarios. These scenarios are designed to be realistic and activate a physiological and psychological response in the officer. It is common for officers to experience an elevated heart and respiratory rate during the scenarios. By placing officers in these scenarios, we allow them to experience and understand how stressful situations will affect them so they will not be overwhelmed when dealing with a real-life event.
A police recruit begins their training by attending a 14-week basic police academy at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. After the recruit has successfully graduated from the academy, the recruit begins our agency’s Police Training Officer (PTO) program.
The PTO program is 18-weeks long and focuses on Problem-Based Learning (PBL). The PBL process provides recruits with the skills to solve future problems they will encounter as a police officer. The PTO program consists of two phases (Basic and Advanced). During each phase, the recruit is trained by a RCPD certified police training officer. Throughout the process, the recruit is evaluated by multiple training officers and must successfully complete the program prior to being released to solo patrol.
Once a police recruit has successfully completed the 18-week long PTO program, they are released to a probationary period until they complete their final training project. After completing this final project, the police recruit is released from recruit status and receives a monthly evaluation from their direct supervisor for 12 months.
In 2015 the RCPD began training all employees in the principles of Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP). FIP was developed by Dr. Lorie Fridell and includes the development of a Comprehensive Program to Promote Fair and Impartial Policing. FIP addresses the phenomenon of human bias and provides a plan for law enforcement agencies to make positive changes in areas as diverse as policy development to hiring practices. The RCPD has been involved in this continuous process since 2015. All employees receive non-biased training and all are expected to be unbiased in the services they provide to our community irrespective of the assignment.