Field Training Program Readies Officers for the Road

 

Remember training for your last job?

Depending on the position, you probably spent somewhere between two and four weeks training. But when the Arvada Police Department hires a new police recruit, they spend nearly 10 months training for the position. The Arvada Police Department has one of the most in-depth training programs in the country.

"Recruits who are successful usually tell us the training process was the hardest thing they’ve ever done," said Sgt. Lee Pinover, who runs the program along with one other sergeant and a commander.

Not all recruits finish the training program at Arvada. Pinover says more recruits are successful than not, but some recruits realize they do not want to be officers or leave to go to a smaller department.

Successful candidates, Pinover said, have several common traits including common sense, maturity, stress management, problem-solving and verbal skills. The intense training program at Arvada ensures new officers will meet the high expectations of the department.

Arvada is currently training 11 recruits in order to fill vacancies as part of the tax initiative passed by voters in 2005. This is an on-going process that will continue until all vacancies are filled.

A recruit’s journey begins with the selection and hiring process which is continually modified to find candidates who can successfully complete the training program.

Once a recruit has been hired, he or she completes a one week orientation program to familiarize them with the City of Arvada. Then they are sent to the Police Academy which is administered by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Recruits spend about 20 weeks at the academy learning law, police procedure, investigation techniques, pursuit driving, weapons use, community policing, interviewing and interrogation techniques. Officers who have already been certified by the academy do not attend again.

After successfully completing the academy, recruits return to Arvada and complete a two-week "Mini Skills" class in order to learn policies, procedures and practices that are specific to the Arvada Police Department.

After 23 weeks of classroom learning, recruits finally get to wear a uniform and begin hands-on training with Field Training Officers.

During field training, recruits are evaluated to be sure they are progressing. They are also evaluated for coping skills and stress management. Psychologists and other experts are used to help teach recruits how to manage a stressful job.

"We have many resources available to help them be successful," Pinover said. "When they struggle, we struggle right along with them."

Recruits spend about 15 weeks going through four phases of field training. Each phase is spent with a different training officer and responsibilities are slowly shifted from the training officer to the recruit.

"It is an eye-opening experience," said Pinover. "As opposed to Academy training where everything is simulated, recruits begin to realize the actual danger and difficulties involved in this type of work."

Arvada has 29 Field Training Officers, who are specially trained to help teach recruits. Field Training Officers are completely responsible for recruits when they are on shift.

"It is one of the hardest assignments," said Pinover. " They are training the future of the department."