What Makes an Effective Field Training Program
Field training programs are crucial for every public safety agency, whether it's police, corrections, juvenile detention or emergency responders. At MdE, Inc., we provide software for field training programs, and we have worked with numerous field training officers to help streamline their jobs and improve efficiency. Here are some of the elements we found to be in common among many successful field training programs.
Consistent Grading and Universal Standards
When you have a clear grading system that is easy to apply, you end up with more consistent data across all recruits and their field training officers. It's important that all recruits are measured against the same standards to prevent ill-fitting individuals from making the cut. And all field training officers should understand these standards and have clear guidelines for assigning grades based on the recruit's performance. When you have such a system in place, it helps eliminate bias among FTOs.
Ongoing Feedback for Recruits
Every trainee has the right to know what they did wrong or right and how to correct their actions in the future. A FTO should provide such feedback in a timely manner and in a tangible form. Verbal feedback, while great for on-the-spot interactions, doesn't create a permanent record or give the trainee a point of reference.
Accurate Record Keeping
Speaking of records, no field training program is complete without a dependable and intuitive record keeping system. All evaluation reports, trainee files and any accompanying photos and documents should be maintained and accessible in one place, and we are not talking about a filing cabinet. Digital record keeping is the modern standard and makes it much faster to both create and access records. When it comes to observation reports and evaluations, MdE's A.D.O.R.E. system does an excellent job of providing a paperless platform for evaluating trainee performance.
Immediate Problem Solving
In a fast-paced field training environment, communication has to be lightning fast. This includes both daily activities like submitting daily observation reports and demanding activities like emergency situations. If you are still writing reports on paper, not only does it take a while to accomplish, but also takes a while to get the reports into the right hands. And if you are using software to manage your field training program, make sure it's intuitive and easy to use, so you don't spend valuable time just trying to navigate it. The right software can greatly assist with problem solving, as it allows to conduct analysis on the fly and access a recruit's entire performance history in a few seconds via easy-to-understand graphs and charts.
You can't have a successful FTO or PTO program if it's not formally structured. All field training officers have to know what's expected of them, what they should expect of trainees and how to properly document their training activities. When you have daily observation reports written in 5 different formats, or when there is no set FTO/trainee ratio, things fall into chaos.
While at MdE we can't help you structure your entire field training program, we'll be happy to provide solutions for the technical aspect—digital records keeping, daily observation reports and trainee evaluations. Feel free to contact us to request a free demo of our software for public safety agencies.